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Porte, Sky and Australia still lead the WorldTour rankings

Photo: Sirotti

GERAINT THOMAS

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28.03.2015 @ 13:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

An impressive breakaway victory in the E3 Harelbeke on Friday has seen Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) soar to second overall in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings behind team mate and classification leader Richie Porte.

 

Already a multiple gold medallist in the Olympic Games team pursuit, this time success for Thomas came after he broke away from a leading break of three, also containing Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) with four kilometres to go. A few minutes later, the Welshman had claimed his first ever victory in a cobbled Classic.

 

“I can’t quite believe it. That last attack took me back to my track days and I imagined I was trying to hold [fellow Briton] Ed Clancy’s wheel in the team pursuit. I felt pretty good during the second half of the race and committed at the end”, Thomas said later.

 

“It was hard out there. The three of us worked well together and I wasn’t sure if they were bluffing a bit near the end – panting and pulling faces – but fortunately they weren’t, and it was great for me.”

 

Whilst Stybar stayed away for second, and his Etixx-Quick Step team mate Matteo Trentin claimed the third spot on the podium after Sagan was swallowed up, crashes meant another top favourite and former UCI WorldTour leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) could be out of the Classics altogether.

 

Three times a winner at E3 Harelbeke and seventh in Milano-Sanremo, Cancellara’s fall early in Friday’s race left him with several possible minor vertebrae fractures, making it unlikely the Swiss star will be able to recover for the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

 

Thomas, meanwhile, has moved up 16 places to second overall in the UCI WorldTour rankings with 134 points, 64 less than his Sky team mate Porte, currently racing - and, as of Friday, leading - in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

 

After placing second in Milano-Sanremo last weekend netted him valuable UCI WorldTour points, Alexandre Kristoff (Team Katusha) continues his steady rise in the rankings, too, thanks to a fourth place in E3 Harelbeke. The Norwegian allrounder is now third overall, just seven points behind Thomas, whilst Santos Tour Down Under winner and early UCI WorldTour leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) slides from second to fourth.

 

In the UCI WorldTour nations classification Australia’s domination and points total continues unchanged and all but all unchallenged. The Australians still have 473 points, more than twice the total of their nearest rivals, Italy, with 201. Whilst Colombia drops to third, Thomas victory in E3 Harelbeke has helped give Great Britain’s points total and placings a considerable boost. Great Britain have now risen from 13th to sixth overall, just out-matching Norway, who move up the UCI WorldTour nations ranking from ninth to seventh.

 

Team Sky’s overall advantage at the top of the UCI WorldTour teams classification has also received a boost following Thomas’ victory. Previously 74 points ahead of Movistar Team, Team Sky have now widened their advantage to 91 points over their new closest pursuer, Etixx-Quick Step. The British squad have 370 points to Etixx-Quick Step’s 271, whilst Katusha have also advanced a spot to third place, with 211 points. Former outright winners Movistar Team slide for second to fourth, meanwhile, whilst BMC Racing Team drops from third to fifth.

 

Top-level one day racing continues apace on Sunday with Gent-Wevelgem, Belgium’s second WorldTour Cobbled Classic of the 2015 season. Once again, a relentless series of short, steep climbs known locally as bergs will be all but certain to shatter the peloton and see a small group of favourites go clear - just like in E3 Harelbeke. Predicting who those riders will be, though, is a much more difficult matter.

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