The Big Deal
As we quickly approach April, with all the order, and mayhem, that comes with clock-changes; we also welcome back the ‘Flanders Fields’ that signals Pro racing in the northern hemisphere. Described as the ‘Fourth Grand Tour’, in that there’s a race almost every other day, just like a GT of the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta. So this weekend, it’s all about Number 3.
What’s the big deal about E3? Well, despite the poster controversy, E3 is a ‘stand up’ race. That’s to say it’s recognised by the UCI and is unusual that it’s a ‘Classic’, that moves with the times. Where it once was held on a Sunday, it now makes room for the other ‘stages’ of the Classics and happens on a Friday. All the more reason to celebrate the weekend!
“You have to live in the North to race in the North”
Friday 28 releases the infamous E3 Harelbeke. Followed by the Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. The tough course is spiced up by cobbles, punchy climbs and high winds renowned in the region. All the more reason for the experts to show the value of local experience. Popular picks will include local Belgian teams like Topsport Vlaanderen, and the household names (in cycling homes), EQS, previously known as OPQS and Lotto-Soudal. Dutch teams, such as Team Roompot and Jumbo Lotto. For a back story to both races, lend your ear to Cosmo and Dane Cash’s audio-blog.
You need specific skills
E3 is 218KM and is recognised as the ‘Mini Flanders’. That’s not to say this independent race isn’t popular, or hard enough in it’s own right; with rapid succession climbs and enough ‘Bergs’ to sink a battleship. Then, there’s the wind direction.
“Riding in echelons is an art. You need to be a bit of a bully to get into one…If you get stranded 5 metres behind the group, you’re finished. No way will you be able to get back in. The effort will kill you.” – Bram Tankink (Team Lotto Jumbo)
The Italian Job
Last Sunday saw John Degenkolb choose his moves wisely to win at La Primavera – the Milano Sanremo. For an excellent video lowdown on ‘How The Race Was Won’ – check out Cyclocosm.
Go on John, put your hands up
For a stylised, but nonetheless triumphant take from the champions perspective, we have the behind the scenes day with Team Giant-Alpecin. “It’s Italian. I really like it.” – John Degenkolb
Whether it’s in Flanders, Milano, or the Chilterns, have fun this Classics weekend!