March 29, 2019
National E3 BinckBank Classic 2019 – Harelbeke – Harelbeke : 204 km
Cobbles and hills have always backboned the routes of Flemish bike races, but in the 21st century,
March 29, 2019
National E3 BinckBank Classic 2019 – Harelbeke – Harelbeke : 204 km
Cobbles and hills have always backboned the routes of Flemish bike races, but in the 21st century, more and more of their number have deliberately sought to replicate the challenge provided by the Tour of Flanders. By dint of both its route and its place on the calendar, the E3 BinckBank Classic – latterly E3 Harelbeke – has established itself as the most essential dress rehearsal for Belgian cycling’s most treasured day. Contenders for the Tour of Flanders may pick and choose their battles in their early part of the season, but (almost) every realistic candidate for Ronde victory will be in action in Harelbeke on Friday as a matter of obligation. The E3 route began to mimic the Tour of Flanders more closely in the mid-1990s, at which point the race started to offer some very reliable pointers of Ronde form. Johan Museeuw became the first rider achieve the E3-Ronde double in 1998, a feat that has been matched on seven occasions since: Peter Van Petegem (1999), Tom Boonen (2005, 2006 and 2012), Fabian Cancellara (2010 and 2013) and, of course, Niki Terpstra (2018).
Zdenek Stybar gave Deceuninck-QuickStep yet another prestigious one-day victory at the E3 BinckBank Classic in Harelbeke, with the Belgian team’s strength in depth again proving decisive.
Teammate Bob Jungles went on the attack in the final 60km of the race, sweeping up and past the break of the day. When a very select group of chasers caught him with seven kilometres to go, it was up to Stybar to take over.
He tried an attack with 3.5km to go but was chased down by Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team). But after sitting on the wheels for the final 50km, Stybar was still strong for the sprint and had the speed to go past Van Avermaet, who lead it out.
Van Aert finished second, impressing again in his first full season at WorldTour level, with Van Avermaet third and Bettiol fourth. Jungels finished fifth and understandably joined in the victory celebrations as Stybar crossed the line ahead of him.
Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) brought home a chase group, close to a minute behind. Surprisingly Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was not there after suffering in the final 20km with a gear problem and perhaps fatigue.
It was Deceuninck-QuickStep’s 20th victory of the 2019 season and their seventh major one-day victory, coming after success at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – also won by Stybar, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Le Samyn, Strade Bianche and last Saturday’s Milano-San Remo.
The E3 BinckBank Classic is always an indicator of form for next weekend’s Tour of Flanders and Stybar was not afraid to say he is ready for the Ronde.
“It’s a pleasure for me to be there, with such good shape. Now I’m really looking forward to the Tour of Flanders,” he said briefly before the podium ceremony.
How it happened
The riders signed on under an unusually warm Belgian sun and bright blue skies in Harelbeke. Many were happy about the spring weather but some of the big-name Belgian contenders made it clear they would have preferred more testing and selective conditions for 204km race on the kasseien (cobblestones) and hellingen (short, steep climbs).
After a few brief attacks and more organised chasing, seven riders went away after 30km to create the early break of the day. In there were Jaime Castrillo (Movistar), Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb), Lionel Taminiaux (Wallonie Bruxelles), Stijn Steels (Roompot-Charles), Ludwig De Winter (Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team), Mihkel Räim (Israel Cycling Academy), Aksel Nommela (Wallonie Bruxelles) and Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise).
They opened a lead of 2:30 after just 20km as the peloton eased up to save their legs for later. On the La Houppe climb after the first feed and 85km, the break led the peloton by 5:00. However as the climbs began to loom large, the Deceuninck-QuickStep finally blinked in the battle of nerves with their rivals and began to chase the attack.
The speed rose dramatically every time the peloton approached a climb or section of pave. The riders were itching to go on the attack. However crashes were always around the corner and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) went into the ditch and struggled to get going again. His race was over with questions about his full spring campaign.
The Taaienberg, with 80km to go, is always a key point of the race and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) seemed inspired by Tom Boonen’s legendary surges here and led the peloton over the top of the narrow, cobbled lane. Sagan was there but did not look strong; fortunately, Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Daniel Oss closed down Van Aert to keep the front group together.
Ian Stannard played Team Sky’s first card on the flat roads after the Taaienberg but with little wind, the rest of the peloton were able to follow him after an increase in speed. Later the big British rider flatted and took a wheel from a teammate. Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) also needed a bike change, reminding everyone how a race can end in a split second.
With 63km to go, on the Boigneberg, Deceuninck-QuickStep started their roll out their strategy, with Zdenek Stybar attacking first to make a selection. The break was just 50 second ahead.
It was a perfect scenario for Jungels to try his hand when Stybar was brought to heel, and he jumped away just before the Kepelberg. His rivals foolishly let him hang off the front alone and so he switched to time trial mode and powered across to the break.
Other tried to go after him, with Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) eventually going across after a huge effort. With 50km left and some legendary final climbs to race, Jungels and the other adventurers led by 45 seconds. Deceuninck-QuickStep had taken charge of the race yet again, forcing their rivals to lead the chase and do the work.
On the Paterberg Jungles dropped everyone in the break. They got back to him but the same thing happened on the Oude Kwaremont. When they reformed again, 20-year-old Hirschi was ordered not to work but he was remarkably strong.
Behind, Van Avermaet set a selective pace on the Paterberg and then the Oude Kwaremont, sparking a natural selection in the front group. It was a quality group but Jungels was still 45 seconds clear.
Bettiol tried to attack over the top of the Oude Kwaremont but he was soon pulled back as the big-name riders watched each other. Jungels finally went solo on the Karnemelkbeekstraat asphalt climb, cracking the riders who tried to hang onto his wheel. He made himself aero over his bars and began a solo ride to the finish.
But behind they refused to give up hope, with van Avermaet often inspiring the chase. The gap slowly faded to below 30 seconds as a chase group desperately tried to join Van Aert, Sagan, Stybar, Naesen, Van Avermaet, Bettiol, Trentin and Keukeleire. Everyone was at their limit after a fast, aggressive race.
The final section of cobbles and the short Tiegemberg climb hurt Jungels and boosted the chances of the chasers with 20km to go. It also ended Sagan’s chances. He seemed to crack but also dropped back to his team car for some work on his rear derailleur. Whatever the problem, his chances of victory were over.
Only Van Avermaet, Stybar, Bettiol and Van Aert remained up front after another van Avermaet surge. They set off after Jungels like a team pursuit quartet, with Stybar logically sitting on and collecting the tickets at the back of the line. Thanks to Jungels attack, Stybar had been able to sit in the wheels for the final 50km. It was clearly his race to lose.
The catch came with seven kilometres to go on the wide road back to Harelbeke. The finale of the finale began. The Trentin chase group was close to a minute behind, with Sagan’s group even further back.
Jungels generously gave his all even after being caught, keeping the pace high to dissuade any attack and protect Stybar’s chances. The Czech rider tried to repeat his late Omloop Het Nieuwsblad attack but was chased down by Bettiol and the other others. Jungels then tried one last time forcing Van Avermaet to close the gap, but everyone was thinking of the sprint and wonder just how fresh and strong Stybar would be.
Jungels led to the finishing straight and then Stybar showed he clearly was the strongest by jumping after Van Avermaet and then by surging past him to win.
Yet again, it was Deceuninck-QuickStep’s day; it was a cycling Classic Groundhog Day.
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:46:05
2 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
4 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:03
6 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:04
7 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
8 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
10 Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb
11 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:33
12 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
13 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
14 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
15 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie 0:01:37
16 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:42
17 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
18 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:45
19 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin 0:02:49
20 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team
21 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
22 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
23 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
24 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
25 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
26 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
27 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
28 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
29 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
30 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
31 Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
32 Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
33 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
34 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
35 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
36 Stan Dewulf (Bel) Lotto Soudal
37 Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
38 Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
39 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data
40 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
41 Eduard Prades (Spa) Movistar Team
42 Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
43 Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie Bruxelles
44 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
45 Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
46 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
47 Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
48 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
49 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
50 Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
51 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
52 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team
53 Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
54 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
55 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
56 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
57 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
58 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
59 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida
60 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
61 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
62 Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
63 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:59
64 Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data 0:03:46
65 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
66 Stijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles
67 Conor Dunne (Irl) Israel Cycling Academy
68 Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
69 Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
70 Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
71 Lawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
72 Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy
73 Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
74 Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
75 Aksel Nõmmela (Est) Wallonie Bruxelles
76 Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
77 Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:03:48
78 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
79 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
80 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy 0:10:39
81 Jaime Castrillo (Spa) Movistar Team
82 Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
83 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Direct Energie
84 Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Wallonie Bruxelles
85 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
86 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
87 Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
88 Senne Leysen (Bel) Roompot-Charles
89 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
90 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
91 Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky
92 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Gobert
93 Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles
94 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
95 Ludwig De Winter (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
96 Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data
97 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
98 Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First
99 Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Florian Stork (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNF Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNF Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Brian van Goethem (Ned) Lotto Soudal
DNF Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team
DNF Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNF Jan Willem van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Filippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Hector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Alex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Roy Goldstein (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Bagdonas Gediminas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Sondre Enger (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Tom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
DNF Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
DNF Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Kamil Gradek (Pol) CCC Team
DNF Justin Timmermans (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
DNF Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data
DNF Justin Jules (Fra) Wallonie Bruxelles
DNF Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
DNF Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
DNF Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Emiel Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Logan Owen (USA) EF Education First
DNF Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie
DNF Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie
DNF Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
DNF Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie
DNF Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Willem Jakobus Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Mads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb
DNF Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNF Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
DNF Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Callum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First
DNF Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky
DNF Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
DNF Leonardo Basso (Ita) Team Sky
DNF Lukas Spengler (Swi) Wallonie Bruxelles
DNF Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First
DNF Moreno Hofland (Ned) EF Education First
DNF Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team