Over the Easter weekend there was some fantastic racing held on the Classics front with the E3 Harelbeke on Friday and the Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
Sandwiched between the Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Gent-Wevelgem the E3 Harelbeke, named after the former motorway and start-finish town, is an important race in the Classics’ campaigns of a few big name riders and features a number of infamous climbs of the Tour of Flanders on less then a week later.
This year marked the 59th edition of the 206km loop and riders like Tom Boonen (ETIXX), Fabian Cancellara (TREK), Peter Sagan (TINKOFF), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen (DIMENSION) and Ian Stannard (SKY) in it for the win.
The race unfolded in the Flemish countryside where spectators saw a favorite-heavy break ride off the front of the peloton with 60km to go, but again Fabian Cancellara was struck by bad luck for the second consecutive year after dropping his chain and missing the move, after last year when Cancellara crashed early-on in the race and fractured two vertebrae.
With 30km to the finish the current World Champion surged and previous World Champ Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY) followed to put a gap between them and the field which was stretched out to 36 seconds and by the last climb on the Tiegemberg it was 30 seconds with 10km to go.
Boonen was on the front of the bunch for a last ditch effort to reel the leaders back but the peloton would not make contact again as the World Champ duo held the bunch at bay.
Sagan led the last kilometer to the line, dragging the patient Pole Kwiatkowski who began his sprint 300 meters before the line, something that Sagan couldn’t match.
Kwiatkowski undoubtedly claimed victory and Team SKY went first and third with Ian Stannard winning the bunch sprint only 11 seconds behind the leaders. Check out Michal Kwiatkowski’s Strava data from the ride here.
Briefly, Eritrean rider Mekseb Debesay on debut with Team Dimension Data in his first WorldTour race, was dropped off the back of a small bunch only 20km from Harelbeke but strayed from the correct path and found himself lost. He asked passers by for directions back to Harelbeke when a kind stranger offered directions as well as a shower and food to the lost WorldTour rider. It took Debesay 15 hours to complete the course when he arrived back at the teams hotel where they had been frantically trying to locate him. It will be hard for Debesay to forget the E3 Harelbeke as his first WorldTour experience.
Here is the top 20, full results can be found here.
1. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, TEAM SKY, in 4:49:34
2. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF, at :04
3. Ian STANNARD, TEAM SKY, at :11
4. Fabian CANCELLARA, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :11
5. Jasper STUYVEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :11
6. Lars BOOM, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :11
7. Tiesj BENOOT, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :11
8. Sep VANMARCKE, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :11
9. Jean-Pierre DRUCKER, BMC RACING TEAM, at :11
10. Daniel OSS, BMC RACING TEAM, at :11
11. Dries DEVENYNS, IAM CYCLING, at :11
12. Matteo TRENTIN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :11
13. Niki TERPSTRA, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :15
14. Tom BOONEN, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :15
15. Zdenek STYBAR, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 2:32
16. Heinrich HAUSSLER, IAM CYCLING, at 4:48
17. Marco MARCATO, WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at 4:48
18. Francisco José VENTOSO ALBERDI, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 4:48
19. Dylan VAN BAARLE, CANNONDALE PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 4:48
20. Ralf MATZKA, BORA-ARGON 18, at 4:48
In other less-fortunate news from the weekend, 22-year-old Belgian cyclist Daan Myngheer died after suffering a heart attack on Saturday at a stage of the Critérium International race in Corsica.
Myngheer pulled up with some 30km to go in the race after suffering some difficulty when he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. Whilst being transported he had a heart attack before the young pro was flown to d’Ajaccio, France and put on artificial respiration where he fell into a coma.
He passed away Monday 7:08pm local time surrounded by his family and it was his and his families wishes to donate his organs. He would have turned 23 on April 13.
His team Roubaix Metropole Lille team said in a statement on their Facebook page, “It is with great emotion, that we inform you of Daan’s death. He lost his last race after having fought like a grand champion.”
Myngheer was the Belgian junior champion in 2011 and he turned professional last year with the Verandas Willems team before joining third-division Roubaix Metropole Lille this season.