E3 Harelbeke

BE Belgium, 29 Mar
1 stages, 203.8 km

Zdenek Stybar wins E3 Harelbeke

Zdenek Stybar wins E3 Harelbeke

Zdenek Stybar continued Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s incredible spring campaign, netting the team’s 20th victory of the season from a five-man group following a highly-entertaining edition of E3 Harelbeke. At 203.4 kilometers, this year’s race packed in 15 climbs, including Taaienberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, hills that will feature in one week also at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

“I’m incredibly happy! Winning Harelbeke after Omloop is amazing, but I couldn’t have done it without this extraordinary team. We have such a great squad, all our riders can win a race and that’s one of the things that make the difference in our favour. Bob was instrumental in my victory, I couldn’t have done it without him, so I want to thank him for his enormous help”, said Zdenek, who is having the best season of his career.

After Kasper Asgreen and Iljo Keisse had done a superb job controlling the day’s main breakaway and inching the peloton closer to the eight men, before various Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders began testing the waters by launching spirited attacks. With 60 kilometres to go, Bob Jungels took off on the Boigneberg and went solo in pursuit of a group of escapees, joining them before making an important selection on the gruelling Paterberg.

“I told Bob to just go if he felt good and you could see him put down the hammer, applying quite a bit of pressure on the peloton and allowing us to save some energy. Having him at the front was an ideal situation for me as I just had to cover the attacks on the important climbs”, Stybar explained about the move that ended up shaping the race.

With 30 kilometers remaining, on the Karnemelkbeekstraat, Jungels rode clear of his companions, maintaining a one-minute lead over a strong chasing group that had formed over the top of the Paterberg, which included also Zdenek Stybar. This fabulous display of power and class kept the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne victor at the front until with seven kilometers to go, when he was reeled in by a four-man group containing also his teammate.

The restless Bob (who would eventually finish fifth) didn’t stop there and attacked again, making the others work hard in order to reel him in again, before Zdenek probed the group inside the last four kilometers. The quintet remained as one under the flamme rouge, led by the Luxembourg Champion, before Stybar displayed his sprinting prowess, kicking out with 200 meters to go and coming past his opponents for a memorable victory – Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s seventh at E3 Harelbeke, an all-time record.

“When Bob got caught, I asked him how he was feeling and told him that he should try again if he still had anything left in the tank, so he took off the front again and made the others chase. Then I accelerated and rode flat out, hoping to hurt the other riders, especially as I still had plenty of energy left in the legs for a sprint. It ended up perfectly for us and this makes up very happy. We’re riding on a wave, know what we have to do and we will keep enjoying the coming races”, concluded Zdenek – the fifth rider in history to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke in the same season – after adorning his palmares with another big one-day race.

 

Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images

Race details

1 Zdeněk Štybar
Deceuninck - Quick Step
4:46:05
2 Wout van Aert
Team Jumbo-Visma
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3 Greg Van Avermaet
CCC Team
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4 Alberto Bettiol
EF Education First
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5 Bob Jungels
Deceuninck - Quick Step
0:03
6 Nils Politt
Team Katusha Alpecin
1:04
7 Matteo Trentin
Mitchelton-Scott
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8 Oliver Naesen
AG2R La Mondiale
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9 Jasha Sütterlin
Movistar Team
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10 Marc Hirschi
Team Sunweb
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11 Philippe Gilbert
Deceuninck - Quick Step
1:33
18 Yves Lampaert
Deceuninck - Quick Step
1:45
25 Florian Sénéchal
Deceuninck - Quick Step
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48 Kasper Asgreen
Deceuninck - Quick Step
,,
60 Iljo Keisse
Deceuninck - Quick Step
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