Sagan victorious in E3 Harelbeke

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) dominated a highly tactical finale in the E3 Harelbeke, winning from a four-man group by out-sprinting Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) with an impressive turn of speed.

Sagan was up against the two-man Omega Pharma-Quickstep wrecking crew Stijn Vandenbergh and Terpstra, and Thomas, but marked them carefully and then dominated the sprint after earlier splitting the decisive attack. The quartet worked together until 3km to race, then the games began. Vandenbergh tried twice to attack, but Thomas and Sagan took turns bringing him back. The lanky Belgian dove for the 1km to go banner, but Sagan was quick to react. Vandenbergh tried again to surprise the others at a median with 500m to go, but it was not enough to dislodge Sagan, who then won the sprint handily.

Sagan shared his victory with his Cannondale teammates.

"I want to thank the team today, especially my teammate who has the same size bike as me and with swapped bikes with me after about 100km," he said after the podium ceremony.

"I didn’t think the race would go well but I felt better and better. The finale was tough and there was a lot of crashes. On the Oude Kwaremont when we caught the break, I attacked to create a small group and we managed to go all the way to the finish."

"It's good for me to win, it has helped me bounce back after Milan-San Remo."

Thomas said that third was the best he could do in such a tactical finale, especially after having been caught up in a crash and riding the end of the race with his bars askew.

"I think I rode it as best I could," Thomas said. "Going up the Kwaremont I thought I’d just get stuck in, attack and see what happens. Obviously it forced that group away but heading into the final with two Quick-Steps and Sagan it was pretty tough. I just felt I didn’t have the punch that Sagan and Terpstra had, so I thought I’d just gamble it all in the finish. You never know if you don’t see what happens.

"When Vandenbergh went I wanted to be first to go after him and hopefully get a bit of a run to hold off a couple of the others. Unfortunately Terpstra got round me on the line but I gave it everything. That’s all I had and I’m pretty happy with that."

How the race unfolded

Spring sunshine and a huge amount of spectators welcomed the riders in Harelbeke for the 57th edition of the E3 Harelbeke.

Before the start last year's winner Fabian Cancellara received his weight in bottles of Languedoc-wine Château Castigno. The Swiss rider can add those 75 bottles to the 75 he received two years ago. On the sign-on podium Cancellara gave Tom Boonen a moving hug, expressing his compassion for the miscarriage Boonen's partner suffered last week. Two hundred riders left sunny Harelbeke for 212 kilometres through the Flemish Ardennes.

After a fast first hour an early breakaway group included Maxime Daniel (AG2R La Mondiale), Jérôme Cousin (Europcar), Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis), Jay Thomason (MTN Qhubeka) and Laurens De Vreese (Wanty - Groupe Robert).

The cooperation in the group was good and they gained a maximum lead of seven minutes. Once the race approached the hills the gap started coming down as the speed in the peloton increased.

A first major crash in the middle of the peloton took down many riders including Svein Tuft (Orica - GreenEdge) who abandoned the race. In a second crash on the cobbles of the Varent just ahead of the Boigneberg it was Ian Stannard (Sky) who rode into a rider who stood in the middle of the road.

Whereas the race often blew apart on the Taaienberg the tweaked course resulted in a cease-fire of more than thirty kilometres. A regrouped peloton steamed over the unselective ascents of the Knokteberg, Hotondberg, Rotelenberg and Kortekeer. The most spectacular feats were the bike changes for Peter Sagan, a double flat tyre for Sep Vanmarcke, the quiet exit of Thor Hushovd at the Hotondberg and a high-speed crash at the back of the peloton at km 45 where Michel Kreder (Garmin-Sharp) took out three Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise riders.

When approaching the Kapelberg, prelude for the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, the five leaders still had nearly 1:30 on the peloton when another big crash in the peloton kicked off the finale. A completely scattered peloton reached the Kapelberg and top favourite Fabian Cancellara was distanced.

The ascent of the steep Paterberg and then the longer Oude Kwaremont blew the race apart. Sep Vanmarcke led on the Paterberg while Geraint Thomas took the race in hand on the Oude Kwaremont. Behind Cancellara kept moving up, this time with Stijn Devolder in support. When coming off the cobbles of the Oude Kwaremont and heading to the newly featuring Karnemelkbeekstraat there were eight leaders and fourteen chasers at about 15 seconds.

On the Karnemelkbeekstraat Sagan swiftly accelerated on a small gear and only Thomas, Terpstra and Vandenbergh were able to hold his wheel. At twenty kilometres from the finish the four leaders had a gap of 25 seconds on eighteen chasers, among those Cancellara, Devolder, Boonen, Degenkolb, Devenyns, Stybar, Bozic, Roelandts, Boasson Hagen, Bozic, Konvalovas, Vanmarcke and early attackers Cousin and De Vreese.

At the cobbles of the Varentstraat the gap grew up to 45 seconds and at the Tiegemberg the gap was nearly a minute. On top of the climb Cancellara attacked in the chase group with only Paolini, Vanmarcke and Boonen being able to hold his wheel. Boasson Hagen led the chase in the descent and brought most riders back to the Swissman except De Vreese, Cousin, Konovalovas and Devolder. With 10km to go the four leaders had a lead of 35s on the first chase group but then Terpstra started skipping pulls.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale4:56:31
2Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
4Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
5Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:01:16
6Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol
7Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:01:19
8Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp
9Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
10Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
11Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
12Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
13Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha
14Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
15John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
16Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
17Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
18Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka
19Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
20Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing0:01:21
21Dries Devenyns (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano0:01:28
22Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:14
23Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
24Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
25Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano
26Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol
27Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
28Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
29Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling
30Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
31Yoann Offredo (Fra)
32Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
33Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
34Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
35Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
36Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
37Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
38Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge
39Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
40Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
41Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
42Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
43Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
44Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
45Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale
46Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Androni Giocattoli
47Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
48Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
49Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale
50Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing
51Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
52Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
53Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
54Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky
55Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
56Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
57Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp
58Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin Sharp
59Nick Nuyens (Bel) Garmin Sharp
60Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
61Nicki Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
62Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo
63Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
64Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
65Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
66Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
67Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
68Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar
69Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:05:08
70Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
71Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica Greenedge
72Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
73Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
74Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Team Katusha
75Antonio Parrinello (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
76Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
77Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team
78Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
79Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
80Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol
81Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
82Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
83Mickael Delage (Fra)
84Johan Le Bon (Fra)
85Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
86Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale
87Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team
88Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky0:07:33
89Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha
90Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin Sharp
91Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Team Katusha
92Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar
93Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
94Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
95Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
96Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra)
97Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
98William Bonnet (Fra)
99Maxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
100Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha
101Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
102Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka0:09:31
103Kenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Belisol
104Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
105Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
106Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale
107David Millar (GBr) Garmin Sharp
108Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
109Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
110Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
111Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) Orica Greenedge
DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica Greenedge
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFAndrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFJens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica Greenedge
DNFDmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Orica Greenedge
DNFJetse Bol (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) Orica Greenedge
DNFMartin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
DNFDavid Boucher (Fra)
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFAlex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team
DNFMathew Hayman (Aus) Orica Greenedge
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFDaniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFIan Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing
DNFJasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFGabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Sky
DNFMorgan Lamoisson (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha
DNFVegard Breen (Nor) Lotto Belisol
DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Team Katusha
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
DNFDavide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Giant-Shimano
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
DNFBjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar
DNFLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFThor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale
DNFMarco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFJohann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFLaurent Mangel (Fra)
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFKristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
DNFSander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFKen Hanson (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
DNFAldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
DNFLuke Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
DNFJohn Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFElia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFPatrick Facchini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFTim De Troyer (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFCarlos Jose Ochoa (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
DNFMaximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
DNFNicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFKenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Androni Giocattoli
DNFAndrea Zordan (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFEdwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFLuca Dodi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFLouis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFGert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFRaymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin Sharp
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Garmin Sharp
DNFSébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling
DNFDominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling
DNFAndrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNSJelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise


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