64th E3 Saxo Bank Classic: 25 March, 2022

A major test for the cobblestone specialists is always this race to Harelbeke. Over a distance of 203.9 km the riders will handle seventeen hills on Friday. If you're not ready now it might soon be too late. An early spring sun will make things pleasant for riders and spectators.

Hills:
  1. Katteberg (750 m; 6%) – 175 km
  2. La Houppe (1880 m; 4,8%) –116 km
  3. Kanarieberg (1050 m; 7,7%) – 111 km
  4. Oude Kruisberg (800 m; 4,8%) – 102 km
  5. Knokteberg (1260 m; 7%) – 96 km
  6. Hotondberg (1200 m; 4%) – 92 km
  7. Kortekeer (1000 m; 6,4%) – 84 km
  8. Taaienberg (700 m; 6,3%) – 80 km
  9. Berg ten Stene (1300 m; 5,2%) – 70 km
  10. Boigneberg (1000 m; 5,2%) – 67 km
  11. Eikenberg (1250 m; 6,2%) – 62 km
  12. Stationsberg (700 m; 3,2%) – 57 km
  13. Kapelberg (750 m; 7,1%) – 45 km
  14. Paterberg (400 m; 12,9%) – 42 km
  15. Oude Kwaremont (2200 m; 4%) – 39 km
  16. Karnemelkbeekstraat, E3 Col (1530 m; 4,9%) – 31 km
  17. Tiegemberg (750 m; 5,6%) – 19 km
Recent winners:
2012: Tom Boonen
2013: Fabian Cancellara
2014: Peter Sagan
2015: Geraint Thomas
2016: Michał Kwiatkowski
2017: Greg Van Avermaet
2018: Niki Terpstra
2019: Zdeněk Štybar
2020: /
2021: Kasper Asgreen

Multiple winners:
5x Tom Boonen
4x Rik Van Looy
3x Jan Raas
3x Fabian Cancellara
 
I saw Asgreen setting a few records on Strava but the Steppers are missing key riders to play the numbers game as effectively as they normally to do.

I think there is a better chance of Jumbo playing the numbers game. I could see Wout being ok with Laporte or Benoot being on the offensive in this race.
 
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WVA is favourite but other names:

  • Pedersen: I don't see WVA dropping Pedersen nor beating him in a sprint
  • Any love for Mohoric? He'll be there in the final, but he has to finish alone
  • Asgreen: will be the big contender for WVA in the coble classics
Less notable: Campenaerts, Benoot, Politt, Stuyven, Trentin, Girmay (impressive in MSR)
 
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It will indeed be an important test between Quick-Step and Jumbo. Favorites are Van Aert, Asgreen, Pedersen and perhaps Kragh Andersen. Campenaerts has to hide himself if he wants to win Dwars door Vlaanderen next week. I'm not sure what to expect of Bahrein. Colbrelli is still recovering, and for Mohoric the descent of the Kwaremont is too short.
 
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WVA is favourite but other names:

  • Pedersen: I don't see WVA dropping Pedersen nor beating him in a sprint
  • Any love for Mohoric? He'll be there in the final, but he has to finish alone
  • Asgreen: will be the big contender for WVA in the coble classics
Less notable: Campenaerts, Benoot, Politt, Stuyven, Trentin, Girmay (impressive in MSR)
For me Asgreen is the favorite, he has shown more often than Van Aert that he is capable of finishing these type of big races.

Van Aert second favorite for me. Also because I think the others are quite likely to look at van Aert to solve problems in case someone like Asgreen goed for example. I think Asgreen has that problem a bit less.

Pedersen the rider that everybody has to drop. Don’t think anyone wants to take him to the finish. Perhaps Jumbo, but if they do I think they will regret that decision.

Mohoric and Kragh after that, but they do not have such a strong team so it’s harder for them to win. Still both have shown amazing form and are riders that you cannot give any advantage. Turgis should probably also be included here, but somehow he is just not a real finisher for me.

Laporte biggest outsider as he might actually profit from the presence of van Aert from a Jumbo perspective.
 
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the race record is normally a decent sign as well, though, and 90-DNF-DNF-DNF looks like he may also need to change his approach to win.
He is just a completely different rider this spring than he has been in past years. Even the notorious Pedersen-pessimist Emil Axelgaard has him as the third biggest favourite behind Asgreen and Van Aert.

To compare, in 2019 he had Pedersen as 30th biggest favourite for De Ronde (the year after he finished second), in 2020 he was 9th biggest a week after having won GW and looked excellent in the Tour and last year he was back to 31st biggest favourite for De Ronde.

In Harelbeke he was ranked 20th both last year and in 2019.

So he really is not very hot on him usually, and he even prefaced his phrase on Pedersen in this year's preview with "I could have sworn never to have placed Pedersen so highly on a favourite list for one of the harder Flemish classics...".

It has to be said, though, that we do miss a few top riders.
 
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I love this race. Best Friday of cycling of the year.

I think it will be won by Wout or a Dane.
I agree, its an insanely good race. Strade Bianche levels IMO, just below Roubaix and Flanders in terms of action. Always aggressive and the biggest riders winning - just look at the record.

Also, its insane that we have 2 of the 3 best riders in this race. Who would have thought that 5 years ago?
 
Well I for one will be rooting for a Frenchman.
Turgis was immaculately consistent in all the Classics last season.
That 2nd in MSR was no fluke this season. See how gutted he was not to have won.
A win is surely just around the corner for him.
Here's hoping for another lovely podium line up like MSR, but this time with Turgis on the top step.
 
I hear what you're all screaming for, so here it is, the negative start list (riders not starting for all sorts of reasons but at peak shape could be expected to have played a role in the race):

Alaphilippe
Lampaert
Roglic
Gilbert
Florian Vermeersch
Claeys
Kristoff
Taco
Lutsenko
Colbrelli :(
Dylan Teuns
Schachmann
Bettiol
Cort
Keukeleire
Pacher
Démare
Ganna (I guess people think he can do something like this race too, for some reason)
Hayter
Kwiatkowski
Pidcock
Geraint Thomas
Boivin
Nizzolo
Würtz
Serrano
Valverde
Matthews
Eekhoff
Casper Pedersen
Hirschi
Pogacar
Trentin
Philipsen
Stannard
Mathieu van der Poel
Van Keirsbulck
Herregodts (would he be good here, I don't know?)
 

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