Cancellara Wins E3 Harelbeke 2013
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) has won the E3 Harelbeke for the third time in four years.
The man called Spartacus surged away from the lead group with 35 km left to win the rugged, 211-km cobbled classic in 5:08:28. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) outsprinted Daniel Oss (BMC) for second at 1:04.
The weather was warmer than it has been for many of this season's classics, and some riders took off leg warmers. A break was a long time forming. Not until 70 km did Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil-DCM), Koen Barbe (Crelan-Euphony), Eloy Teruel (Movistar), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), and Stefan van Dyck (Accent Jobs-Wanty) escape. Twenty km later, the break led the bunch by three minutes.
The many hills created attrition, and before long only Teruel, Lund, and Barbe were in the lead. After the Stationsberg, the trio was reeled in.
Sky led the field up to the Taaienberg. On the climb, defending champion and five-time winner Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) surged and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) joined him. Cancellara, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Mathew Hayman (Sky) joined the pair, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), and Oss signing on later. Vanmarcke dropped out of the break, which left seven leaders. With 50 km remaining, Vincent Jerome (Europcar), Lars Boom (Blanco), Sebastien Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge), and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) bridged up to the move.
Behind, Sagan had missed the move because of a mechanical problem, but his Cannondale teammates towed him to the break. Additional combustion formed a lead group consisting of Cancellara, Boonen, Roelandts, Langeveld, Vandenbergh, Stybar, and a few others.
Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) bridged up to the leaders. On the Oude Kwaremont, however, Cancellara made his move. By the summit, the Swiss rider led his former companions by 0:15.
Boonen dropped back, and Stybar and Vandenbergh stayed with him. Boonen's teammate Sylvain Chavanel jumped into the chase group, which consisted of Langeveld, Sagan, Geraint Thomas (Sky), and Oss. At the summit of the Knokteberg, Cancellara led the lead chase group by a minute and a group consisting of Boonen, Boasson Hagen, and others by 1:40, with a number of riders between the two groups.
Cancellara held off the pursuit and had plenty of time to celebrate on the approach to the finish. Behind, Oss jumped away from his companions in the last km, but Sagan overtook the BMC man for the runnerup spot. (Located in the US? Watch E3 Harelbeke video highlights in our videos section )
Cancellara did not intend to break the race open with his attack, but circumstances played into his hands. "It was intuition to go on the Oude Kwaremont and just see if I could break down the group a little more," he said. "We knew the Oude Kwaremont was an important key in the race, as it will be in the Tour of Flanders, as we watched some days ago the finale of E3 of 2011 and 2012 on the computer. Also, this is part of the preparation for the race.
"You have to take it when you can as