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E3 Harelbeke preview: More than a Flanders warm-up

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Peter Sagan wins E3 Harelbeke

Peter Sagan wins E3 Harelbeke
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke podium: Jurgen Roelandts (2nd), Fabian Cancellara (1st) and Vladimir Gusev (3rd)

The E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke podium: Jurgen Roelandts (2nd), Fabian Cancellara (1st) and Vladimir Gusev (3rd)
(Image credit: ispaphoto.com)
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The E3 Harelbeke peloton speeds down a narrow lane

The E3 Harelbeke peloton speeds down a narrow lane
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took the E3 Harelbeke by the scruff of its neck

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took the E3 Harelbeke by the scruff of its neck
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) takes it all in

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) takes it all in
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Netherland's Niki Terpstra reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 112th edition of the Paris-Roubaix

Netherland's Niki Terpstra reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 112th edition of the Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: AFP)

The WorldTour descends upon Harelbeke on Friday with the Classics stars set to battle it out on the cobbles and hellingen of Belgium.

From there the race is peppered with hellingen - the Eikenberg (118km), Taaienberg (128km), and Knokteberg (143km) standing out in section of 39km that includes no fewer than seven climbs. However, it’s not until the Paterberg (173km) and Oude Kwaremont (177km), that the main contenders typically tend to shine. In the last few years both climbs have been repeatedly used to form winning attacks and although two climbs remain from the base of the Kwaremont until the finish, the 20km between the final climb and the finish line in Harelbeke could provide the opportunity for a number of riders to pull themselves back into contention.

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The contenders

Team Sky come into the race with a number of cards to play but Geraint Thomas stands out of his ride in Milan-San Remo. Viviani has been drafted in to replace Bradley Wiggins but in Peter Kennaugh, Bernhard Eisel and Ian Stannard, the team has options.

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