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E3 Saxo Bank Classic - Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2021 E3 Saxo Bank Classic.

As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are gathering for the start at the E3 Arena in Harelbeke.  

They face a 9km neutral ride out of town and then a 203.9km race distance.

As you may have seen, the Bora-Hansgrohe team have been stopped from riding today's E3 Saxo Bank Classic in Belgium after Britain's Matt Walls tested positive for COVID-19 in final pre-race testing. 

The race heads east from Harelbeke, deep in Flanders, to ride 17 classic Flemish climbs. 

Trek-Segafredo should be in the action today.  Milan-San Remo winner Jasper Stuyven is back racing today, alongside Mads Pedersen.

The flags at the side of the road suggest the wind will play a major factor in the race today. 

This is the official map and profile of the race, showing the 17 climbs and the twisting route.

To learn more about the route and favourites, read our full race preview by clicking below.

They're off! 

There are riders trying early attacks but none are sticking for now.

Oliver Naesen spoke briefly to Sporza before the start about the wind and taking on Van Aert and van der Poel. 

189km to go

The big news this morning, if you missed it, is that Bora are out of the race after a positive test for COVID-19 in their ranks. Here's the story.

Here are the climbs that the riders will face today

Km 28,2 Katteberg
Km 85,9 La Houppe
Km 92,1 Kanarieberg
Km 100 Oude Kruisberg
Km 107,8 Knokteberg
Km 111,7 Hotondberg
Km 118,8 Kortekeer
Km 123,5 Taaienberg
Km 131,5 Berg Ten Stene
Km 136,7 Boigneberg
Km 141,1 Eikenberg
Km 146,5 Stationberg
Km 157,4 Kapelberg
Km 161,5 Paterberg
Km 164,3 Oude Kwaremont
Km 172,2 Karnemelkbeekstraat
Km 183,9 Tiegemberg

176km to go

We've gone over the Katteberg and there are two small groups free from the peloton but the time gaps between all the riders is only about 11 seconds at the moment. 

Riders keep attacking but then dropping back but right now we have 10 riders currently on the move with the peloton on their heels. 166km to go.

Taco van der Hoorn, Greipel and Terpstra are on the attack too and they're chasing down what's left of the early movers. So much is in flux right now with 163km to go.

10 riders are now in the lead group after a breathtaking few minutes of racing. 161km to go and the current leaders are Greipel, Van der Hoorn, Milan, Haller, Brunel, Wallays, De Vylder, Jacobs, Mas and Tiller.

Terpstra and Van den Berg are about to make contact, so we should have 12 leaders shortly. 

157km to go

Looks like the break has been let go with the gap continuing to expand, and we now have twelve riders up front. Full names to come...