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Terpstra wins E3 Harelbeke

Niki Terpstra became the first Dutchman to win E3 Harelbeke since Steven de Jongh in 2003, after a dominant performance by the Quick-Step Floors team. Terpstra soloed to the line after initially getting away on the Taaienberg with teammate Yves Lampaert with more than 70 kilometres remaining.

Philippe Gilbert made it a 1-2 for the Quick-Step team, with defending champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) rounding out the podium. World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had another difficult E3 Harelbeke, crashing in the early stages, getting dropped in the final 40 kilometres and finishing over three minutes down.

Quick-Step took the race by the scruff of the neck with more than half the race still to run after a crash held up a large portion of the peloton, including several of the pre-race favourites. The drive, which was assisted by Lotto Soudal, cut chunks out of the advantage of the day's breakaway. With the remaining leaders within toughing distance, Terpstra and Lampaert attacked on the Taaienberg.

With Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar to run interference behind, the Quick-Step pairing built an advantage that the chasers struggled to shut down. As the race hit the penultimate helling, the Karnemelkbeekstraat, it looked like it might be about to fall apart for the Belgian team as Lampaert began to struggle. Terpstra seemed unsure of carrying on alone and held back to wait for his ailing teammate as Gilbert attacked behind.

Lampaert got back on, but Gilbert was stuck in no-man's land and eventually sat up and waited. Lampaert's resurgence didn't last long and it was eventually left to Terpstra to try and bring it home for the Belgian outfit. The group behind - with Van Avermaet and two teammates, Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) among others – cut the gap to Terpstra to 12 seconds with three kilometres remaining.

However, they ruined any chance of catching the flying Dutchman by playing cat-and-mouse games, appearing to be racing for second place rather than the victory. Their repeated attacks and lulls slowed the chase and allowed Terpstra to build his lead to 19 seconds, even with a slowdown to celebrate his second win of the Classics.

How it unfolded

It was a cold and blustery start to the day in Harelbeke, but mercifully there was no rain for the peloton. Though the Classics began at the end of February, the 206.1km course with 15 climbs would be the first big litmus test for the Classics riders ahead of next week's Tour of Flanders.

A little after midday, the riders rolled out of town with attacks coming immediately after the flag dropped at kilometre zero. Eventually, a group of eight riders pushed clear and quickly built up a lead of six minutes. Truls Korsaeth (Astana), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates), Lukas Spengler (WB Aqua Protect), Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Pim Ligthart (Roompot), Jeremy Lecroq (Vital Concept), and Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were the lucky eight.

Their lead went up as far as seven minutes when a closed level crossing delayed the peloton. However, a combined effort from Lotto Soudal and Quick-Step quickly brought it back down to a more manageable 5:45.

Peter Sagan's 2017 E3 Harelbeke was hampered by a crash, and he had a sense of déjà vu early on as he hit the deck in a multi-rider pile up. Fortunately, he was up and running a lot quicker than he was 12 months ago and was soon back into the peloton. Aside from Sagan's incident, the opening half of the race was a fairly straightforward affair, but that changed with 108 kilometres to go.

Just as the race approached the halfway point, a crash near the front of the peloton on a narrow road shaped the second part of the race. The peloton had filled out the whole road so when one rider went down it caused a ripple effect through the bunch that saw about a quarter of the field go down. Of those who didn't go down, most were caught behind the crash with nowhere to go.

Several of the main contenders, including Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), were involved in the incident and left scrambling to get back on the road. Quick-Step had been right on the front and made it through intact.

Quick-Step Floors' to lose

As news came through as to who had lost out in the crash, Quick-Step saw the opportunity to rule them out of contention altogether. With the help of fellow Belgians Lotto Soudal, the drastically reduced peloton put the hammer down. The effect was immediate as Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse took a minute out of the leaders' advantage in five kilometres. With just under 90km to go, the gap was less than two minutes, while the second peloton was over a minute further back.

With the first chasing group bearing down on them, the leading group of eight began to break into pieces. Gaudin and Ligthart emerged from the ashes of the breakaway and sailed off up the road, delaying the inevitable catch. Behind, Astana were doing their best to bring the race back together, but every time they got closer a surge up front increased the gap again.

With 71km to go, the Taaienberg is often the point were the first major selections begin to take place and Quick-Step used it to break the race further. Former Paris-Roubaix winner Terpstra attacked along with teammate Lampaert, and the pair quickly gained a significant advantage. It wasn't long before the blue duo had caught and dispatched Gaudin and Ligthart.

An elite chase began to form behind with Van Avermaet, Sagan, Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Gilbert. With so many Quick-Step riders in the chasing group, Van Avermaet decided to strike out alone, but he was eventually joined by Benoot and Gilbert. Behind, Daniel Oss did a big turn for his team leader, Sagan, but it came to nothing when Sagan was dropped on the Oude Kwaremont.

Lampaert had been working hard, and as he and Terpstra hit the Karnemelkbeekstraat with 31 kilometres remaining, the 26-year-old began to struggle. He was quickly dropped by the stronger Terpstra, who glanced over his shoulder unsure whether to leave his teammate in the pain cave.

The call must have come over the radio, and he eased up to allow Lampaert to regain touch just as Gilbert launched his own attack from behind. It gave them an opportunity to have three riders out front but significantly reduced the gap to the chasers behind. In the end, Gilbert wasn't able to get across and Lampaert was dropped again with 24 kilometres to go.

It was a long way to go solo and Terpstra's advantage was tenuous as the group behind grew when Naesen, Vanmarcke and several others caught the chasing group of Van Avermaet. With three kilometres remaining and the gap falling to little more than 10 seconds, it looked like Quick-Step Floors had got it terribly wrong. However, discord in the chasing group proved just enough to see him across the line 19 seconds clear of his teammate Gilbert, who won the sprint for second place.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors5:03:34
2Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:00:20
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
5Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
7Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
8Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
9Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
10Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
11Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
12Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:27
13Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:02:52
14Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team
15Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
16Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Floors0:02:57
17Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:03:00
18Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott0:03:19
19Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida
20Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
21John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
22Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
23Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
24Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Dimension Data
25Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
26Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:03:23
27Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:27
28Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic0:07:03
29Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie
30Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
31Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
32Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team
33Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
34Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team
35Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:09
36Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
37Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
38Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
39Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team
40Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
41Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
42Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
43Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
44Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie
45Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
46Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan
47Mathew Hayman (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
48Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
49Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
50Brian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij0:11:15
51Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky
52Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
53Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:14:05
54Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
55Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
56Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
57Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
58Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
59Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
60Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
61Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
62Michal Kolár (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
63Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
64Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
65Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
66Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
67Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie
68Tanguy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept Club
69Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept Club
70Stijn Devolder (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
71Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
72Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
73Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
74Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
75Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
76Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
77Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data
78Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
79Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
80Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
81Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
82Martijn Budding (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
83Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
84Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
85Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
86Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
87Borut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
88Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
89Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
90Timo Roosen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
91Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) LottoNL-Jumbo
92Truls Korsaeth (Nor) Astana Pro Team
93Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:14:10
94Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
95Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFBen Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
DNFMaxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFAlex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFTom Scully (NZl) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFSimone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFTaylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFLennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFRobert Wagner (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFKristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFDavid Per (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNFBaptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFJosé Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFGregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
DNFTom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFJasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFJan Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFWouter Wippert (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFAdrien Garel (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFJérémy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFRyan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFNicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFSimon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNFAidis Kruopis (Ltu) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFBenjamin King (USA) Dimension Data
DNFJimmy Duquennoy (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
DNFChristophe Masson (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFLukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan

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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.

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