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Cancellara wins E3 Harelbeke 2013

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) soloed to an emphatic victory at E3 Harelbeke to deliver an ominous message to his rivals ahead of next Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The Swiss rider attacked alone from an elite group on the Oude Kwaremont with all of 35 kilometres to go and reached Harelbeke with a resounding advantage of 1:08 over Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Daniel Oss (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Sky).

On a chilly afternoon in Flanders, Cancellara was present and correct at every major rendezvous of the race and then landed the knock-out blow to take his third victory in E3 Harelbeke in four years, and install himself as the outright favourite for Ronde victory on March 31.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had looked to dictate terms when his forcing on the Taaienberg brought an elite group of eight riders - Cancellara included - clear with 60km still to race. With Peter Sagan (Cannondale) caught behind, however, there was a regrouping before the Paterberg, where Boonen again looked to stretch the leaders.

Cancellara was promptly onto Boonen's wheel but he waited until the following Oude Kwaremont to deliver his full response. The Swiss rider's ferocious tempo on the climb burnt everyone off his wheel, with Sagan the last man to yield. On cresting the summit, Cancellara opted to put his head down and drive on alone towards the finish, quickly opening out a lead of over a minute.

"It was intuition to go on the Oude Kwaremont and just see if I could break down the group a little more,” Cancellara said. “We knew the Oude Kwaremont was an important key in the race, as it will be in the Tour of Flanders. We watched some days ago the finale of the E3 of 2011 and 2012 on the computer and this is also part of the preparation for the race."

Cancellara's move spread panic in the chasers behind, and Boonen was left behind as Sagan, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Thomas, Oss and Sebastien Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge) tried to limit the damage, but there was nothing to be done in the face of Cancellara's startling show of strength in the finale.

Cancellara coasted up the final climb of the Tiegemberg and maintained his advantage on the flat, exposed run-in to the line in Harelbeke for a win every bit as resounding as his triumph here in 2011. Sagan took the sprint for 2nd ahead of Oss, while Boonen led home the main peloton over two minutes down on Cancellara.

"You have to take it when you can as you never know what tomorrow brings," Cancellara said of the win, his first since the Tour de France prologue last July, and his first road race win since Strade Bianche over a year ago. "After my crash in Flanders last year this was my first race on this special ground. I saw that there were many Omega Pharma-QuickSteps in the front, so I decided to try something. It was a so hard but such a unique experience. Many things crossed my mind. This is a great win for me and for the team. Anything that will come now is a bonus."

How it unfolded

Tom Boonen rolled up for the start with a jersey beating the legend ‘5 times,’ referring to his five wins in the E3 Harelbeke, but most of his fellow riders were more interested in the improvement in temperatures, with many opting for short sleeves.

The unfavourable wind didn’t tempt many riders into a long breakaway attempt, although after 70km of racing, a group of six riders tried their luck. Eloy Teruel (Movistar) was joined by Anders Lund (Saxo-Tinkoff), Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil-DCM), Koen Barbé (Crelan-Euphony), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana) and Stefan van Dijk (Accent Jobs-Wanty). Twenty kilometres later the six had a gap of three minutes on the peloton. The gap of the leaders grew up to about three minutes until Omega Pharma-Quickstep started setting the pace in the peloton. Around that point, 2011 Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) pulled out of the race, which probably means he’ll skip most of the Flemish classics in the coming weeks.

After tackling the first in a long series of hellingen, the breakaway group fell apart as the pace in the peloton kept increasing. After the Boigneberg only Lund, Barbé and Teruel remained in front but after the Stationsberg, shortly before the often crucial Taaienberg, the peloton was back together.

Team Sky led the approach to the Taaienberg but on the climb Boonen forced the issue on his favourite climb, together with Jurgen Roelandts. The duo created a gap but they were soon to be joined by Fabian Cancellara, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Mathew Hayman (Sky). Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) and Daniel Oss needed some more time but joined before the descent. The efforts took its toll, however, as Vanmarcke dropped out of the group shortly after, leaving the race with seven leaders.

A counter-attack from Sylvain Chavanel sparked a series of attacks and that eventually saw a chase group with Lars Boom, Sebastian Langeveld, Vincent Jerome and Stijn Vandenbergh got away. World champion Philippe Gilbert tried but failed to bridge up to this group, while Peter Sagan was attentive near the front of the peloton but didn’t make the cut due to suffering from a mechanical problem.

Langeveld, Jerome, Vandenbergh and a struggling Boom bridged up at the Kanarieberg, at 54km from the finish creating a lead group of eleven riders, with three Omega Pharma-Quickstep riders. In the peloton, Heinrich Haussler (IAM) kept the pace high and a little later the Cannondale team of Sagan took over the chase. On the roads towards the triple whammy of the Kapelberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, Sagan’s four teammates kept the gap below half a minute and gradually brought him back into contention.

By the Kapelberg, Cannondale’s work had seen them catch the leaders. The pace didn’t drop, however, and as soon as the favourites group was caught they were gone again. This time, Sagan took his rightful place in front while Boom dropped out of the equation. Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) bridged up too at the foot of the Paterberg, where Boonen again forced the issue and – tellingly - Cancellara tracked him very closely indeed.

More riders joined at the Oude Kwaremont but halfway up the climb Cancellara upped the pace. The Swiss rider blasted over the cobbles – while snow sidelined sections of the climb – and dropped everybody, with Sagan the last to relent. By the top of the Oude Kwaremont Cancellara had 15 seconds on the first chasers and opted to continue in his effort alone.

Behind, the favourites were strewn across the hillside. Vandenbergh, Stybar and Boonen were distanced while their teammate Chavanel joined Thomas, Oss, Sebastien Langeveld and Sagan in the principal chase group. By the time Cancellara reached the top of the Knokteberg, his lead was up to a minute over the five chasers. Vandenbergh was on his own behind them, just like Stybar and then a second group with Boasson Hagen, Boonen and co trailed Cancellara by 1:40.

Just like in 2011, Cancellara’s show of strength was decisive, as he managed to match and indeed better the pace of the chase group of five riders on the wide roads after the Knokteberg, maintaining a lead of over a minute and cruising to a dominant win in Harelbeke. The Tour of Flanders has its outright favourite.

“That's life,” Cancellara shrugged. “The most important goals are indeed still coming but let's celebrate first. We worked months for this. Now I can tackle the other races in a more relaxed way. I feel renewed confidence with this win but also renewed pressure as well.”

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard5:08:28
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:04
3Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
4Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
5Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:08
6Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
7Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:02:15
8Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
9Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
10Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
11Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
12Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
13Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ
14Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
15Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
16Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
17Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
18Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
19Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
20Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling
21Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
22Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
23Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
24Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
25Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
26Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
27Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
28Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling
29Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
30Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
31Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
32Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling
33Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp
34Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
35Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
36Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling0:02:27
37Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling0:02:35
38Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
39David Boucher (Fra) FDJ0:03:00
40Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:04:05
41Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar0:04:28
42Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano0:05:11
43Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
44Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
45Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
46Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
47Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
48Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
49Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
50Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
51Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
52Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
53Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha
54Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha
55Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
56Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
57Sébastien Minard (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
58Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
59David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
60Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
61Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
62Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling
63Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
64Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Katusha0:09:01
65John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
66Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:09:46
67Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
68Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard
69Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol
70Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky Procycling
71Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
72Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
73Stuart O'grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
74William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ
75Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar
76Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
77Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling
78Kurt Hovelijnck (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
79Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol
80Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
81Debusschere Jens (Bel) Lotto Belisol
82Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
83Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica-GreenEdge0:12:15
84Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:12:16
85Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
86Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
87Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
88Damien Gaudin (Fra) Team Europcar
89Florent Barle (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
90Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
91Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
92Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
93Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
94Gilles Devillers (Bel) Crelan-Euphony0:12:41
95Klaas Sys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
96Koen Barbe (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
97Hugo Houle (Can) Ag2R La Mondiale0:12:46
98Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNSTony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
DNSLloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
DNSEgidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Crelan-Euphony
DNSBjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNFThor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
DNFKlaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFVicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
DNFDavide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale
DNFGedimias Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2R La Mondiale
DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Ag2R La Mondiale
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFAssan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFMauro Da Dalto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFPeio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFGarikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFAlexander Serebryakov (Rus) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFIoannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFSteffen Radochla (Ger) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ
DNFDominique Rollin (Can) FDJ
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
DNFDavid Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
DNFRamunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
DNFNick Nuyens (Bel) Garmin-Sharp
DNFSebastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin-Sharp
DNFVladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha
DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha
DNFViacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Katusha
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFElia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFAndrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFDavide Vigano (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFAlessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFAlex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team
DNFEnrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFAidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFDaniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFJonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFWesley Kreder (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFWouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFDanilo Napolitano (Ita) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFTim De Troyer (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFBenjamin Verraes (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFStaf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFStefan Van Dijk (Ned) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty
DNFKevin Claeys (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
DNFSébastien Delfosse (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFYves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFJarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFGert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFKristof Goddaert (Bel) IAM Cycling
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFPirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFDominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFMorgan Lamoisson (Fra) Team Europcar


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