UPDATED With results
Wout Van Aert of Jumbo Visma sent a message to his cobbled classic rivals today by thundering away from the leaders’ group on the Paterberg with only his teammate Christophe Laporte, creating a separation that held for the final 40km to give Van Aert his first victory in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. Van Aert had previously powered a move on the Taaienberg to split the peloton, with the lead group containing three of his Jumbo teammates, and after a subsequent enlargement of the group (following some work by INEOS to join), it was Van Aert again on the Paterberg who enforced his will. His vicious acceleration was too much for the likes of Biniam Girmay of Intermarche-Wanty Groupe, who was among the most active riders in the lead group and tried to stay with Van Aert on the Paterberg. But by the top of the 22% incline only Laporte could manage the task, and the team knew it had played its cards perfectly. The pair drove hard over the Oude Kwaremont as well, cementing their position, which was close to two minutes by the time they reached the finishing town of Harelbeke, at which point the teammates sat up, crossing the line arm-in-arm with Van Aert awarded the win. Stefan Kung of FDJ made a late move to come in just ahead of the chase group’s sprint action to take third ahead of Girmay, who just missed out on the first podium finish by a rider from an African nation.
1 VAN AERT Wout, Jumbo Visma
2 LAPORTE Christophe, Jumbo Visma, s.t.
3 KÜNG Stefan, Groupama FDJ, at 1.35
4 GIRMAY HAILU Biniam, Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux, s.t.
5 MOHORIČ Matej, Bahrain - Victorious, s.t.
6 MADOUAS Valentin, Groupama - FDJ, s.t.
7 NARVÁEZ Jhonatan, INEOS Grenadiers, s.t.
8 BENOOT Tiesj, Jumbo-Visma, s.t.
9 VAN BAARLE Dylan, INEOS Grenadiers, s.t.
10 ASGREEN Kasper, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, s.t.
11 TURGIS Anthony, TotalEnergies
12 TILLER Rasmus, Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
13 TEUNISSEN Mike, Jumbo-Visma
14 GOGL Michael, Alpecin-Fenix
15 STUYVEN Jasper, Trek - Segafredo
Harelbeke - Harelbeke 203.9 km
Some argument about if Strade Bianche is the sixth monument, here’s my argument: I dunno. But E3 for sure is The Party Monument. It’s on a Friday, the course is phenomenal and the racing is the relaxed, let-loose, “have some fun with it” version of Ronde van Vlaanderen. Just sit back, have a Kwaremont or two and enjoy.
Expected finish: 16:45 - 17:30 CET
Kapitein Happy-Fun-Time: Wout van Aert
I wanna say something crazy like “Victor Campanaerts” but I don’t see how a Wout, hungry for revenge after Sanremo, with a team like this misses. Maybe if one of his lieutenants Benoot or Laporte run away with it in a tactical play?