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"Just after the top of the Oude Kwaremont I unfortunately couldn't close the gap on the escapees like Sagan and Vandenbergh did. The top four was gone, then we had to aim for a place as high as possible. The E3 has given me confide...

Photo: Sirotti








29.03.2014 @ 10:20 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Tony Gallopin and Jurgen Roelandts proved that Lotto Belisol have a dangerous two-pronged attack for the cobbled classics when they both made it into the select chase group in yesterday's E3 Harelbeke. In the end, Gallopin escaped to take 6th and this was an importance confidence boost ahead of the Tour of Flanders.


The E3 Harelbeke today was a hectic race with several crashes and punctures. On the Oude Kwaremont the final break took off. Tony Gallopin rode from the background to the sixth place. Jürgen Roelandts finished twelfth.


A complete peloton climbed the Kattenberg, the first hill of the day, after 35 kilometers of racing. On the cobbles of the Holleweg a front group was formed: Cousin, Daniel, De Vreese, Sénéchal and Thomson. The five got up to seven minutes lead.


Jürgen Roelandts led the pack on the Taaienberg, Luca Paolini took over in the second half. The peloton fell apart, but riders would return afterwards. Lotto Belisol was strongly represented with six riders and was positioned on the front of the bunch.

With just over 40 kilometers to go there was another massive crash, just before the Kapelberg, which caused a break in the peloton. A small group got ahead with Tony Gallopin, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.


The Paterberg was the next crucial point. Roelandts and Gallopin survived the war. Geraint Thomas then raised the tempo on the Oude Kwaremont. Together with Degenkolb and Terpstra he jumped to the three last leaders. Peter Sagan and Stijn Vandenbergh bridged the gap each on their own.

On the Karnemelkbeekstraat the early escapees and Degenkolb were dropped. Sagan, Terpstra, Thomas and Vandenbergh battled for the victory. Peter Sagan won before Terpstra and Thomas.


Before entering the final kilometer Tony Gallopin jumped away from a chase group of seventeen, with Jürgen Roelandts in it. Sep Vanmarcke caught up with Tony and won the sprint for place five, so Gallopin was sixth at 1'16". Roelandts arrived at the finish line as twelfth.

"It was a nervous race today with many crashes," Gallopin said. "Up to the Taaienberg it was difficult to position myself well, but from then on it got much better. In the final I felt good, that's why I jumped away at the end.


"Just after the top of the Oude Kwaremont I unfortunately couldn't close the gap on the escapees like Sagan and Vandenbergh did. The top four was gone, then we had to aim for a place as high as possible. The E3 has given me confidence. I'm curious for what's coming."


"Before we began the climb of La Houppe I crashed," Roelandts said. "I could easily get back to the front rows of the bunch and was positioned well to start the crucial hills. With Marcel and Tony we were well represented when we started the Paterberg.


"On the Oude Kwaremont I couldn't follow the best. A twelfth place isn't a top result, but we tried to make the race. That's also our goal the next weeks.


"In the chase on the four leaders we noticed that the work of Cancellara and Devolder hardly had any effect; the best were in front. You saw that in the way that Vandenbergh and Sagan closed the gap after the Kwaremont.


"It was a very nervous race. Like I mentioned I crashed once and two times I came close. The good weather made more riders think they had a chance and so there was lots of pushing in the run-up to the hills and cobbles."



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