Reigning champion Zdenek Stybar will be one of our seven riders at the start of the Belgian classic.
E3 Saxo Bank Classic is back after being cancelled last year, and it comes with a new and much harder course, featuring a total of 17 hills after the addition of the Kanarieberg, Oude Kruisberg and Eikenberg. Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, two of the most iconic climbs in Flanders, remain on the 203.9km-long course and will once again be tackled inside the last 40 kilometers of the race. Just like two years ago, Tiegemberg will be the last difficulty of the day, with the riders cresting it just 20 kilometers from the finish.
Two years ago, Zdenek Stybar rode a perfect race and at the end outsprinted a small group in Harelbeke, thus becoming the third different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to win the prestigious World Tour one-day race. With the 2020 edition being cancelled, the 35-year-old Czech will be at the start with bib number one on his back, hoping to be again among the protagonists.
Danish Champion Kasper Asgreen, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Iljo Keisse, two-time Dwars door Vlaanderen victor Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal – who since the start of the year has racked-up two podiums in one-day races – will add firepower and versatility, giving our team several cards to play on Friday.
“E3 remains one of the hardest one-day races out there and a good result here always gives you an important morale-boost ahead of De Ronde. The parcours has changed from what we had two years ago and it will be more demanding this season, but on the other hand we come at the start with a strong team, made up of guys who love this kind of races. We have seen them in action since February and they are all motivated and hungry, so we’re really confident ahead of Friday”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels.