Peter Sagan wins E3 Harelbeke as Geraint Thomas places third
Four-man escape group survives chase to contend race win in Belgium
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won E3 Harelbeke in Belgium on Friday from a four-man escape group originally instigated by Geraint Thomas (Sky). Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) placed second, with Thomas finishing third.
The cobbled classic had started relatively tamely, with a five-rider group going clear after 35km, comprising Maxime Daniel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Florian Senechal (Cofidis), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka) and Laurens De Vreese (Wanty Groupe). The group stayed out front for a long spell, but were reeled in as the action started to heat up behind them.
Thomas accelerated on the Oude Kwaremont, splitting the peloton and forcing the formation of an escape group which was steadily whittled down to Thomas, Sagan, Terpstra and his Omega Pharma team-mate Stijn Vandenbergh by the time they hit 25km to go.
Pre-race favourite and defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) had earlier been held up by a badly-timed crash in the bunch, and was part of a chase group also containing Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
With Boonen mindful of having two team-mates in the lead group, he did not contribute to the chase - leaving Cancellara to do the vast majority of the work with team-mate Stijn Devolder.
Thomas continued to ride strongly in the front group with Sagan and the Omega Pharma duo, all well aware of the danger from Cancellara behind - particularly when the Swiss rider launched a last-ditch effort to catch the lead quartet on the final climb of Tiegemberg. Cancellara's acceleration momentarily saw the gap drop to 30 seconds, but he paid for the effort and with five kilometres to go the gap was up to over a minute. The winner would come from the lead four.
Vandenbergh and Terpstra took it in turns to attack the lead group, leaving Sagan and Thomas to police the moves. Vandenbergh looked the stronger of the two Omega riders, and his final attempt to break free in the final kilometre saw Thomas jump on his wheel and carry the momentum to lead out the group toward the line.
For a moment, it looked as though Sagan had been caught napping but the Slovak's superior sprint saw him catch and pass Thomas to take the victory. Thomas faded near the line and he was passed in the final metres by Terpstra.
At times, Thomas had looked the strongest rider in the race and his temporary distancing of Sagan on the Oude Kwaremont appeared to give the Slovak a rare moment of panic. In the end, Sagan prevailed - but it was close.
If E3 Harelbeke is anything to go by, we're in for a fantastic Spring Classics season.
E3 Harelbeke 2014
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale in 4-56-30
2. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
4. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at same time
5. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin at 1-30
6. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol at same time
7. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana at 1-40
8. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
9. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
10. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at same time
Team Sky hoping change in training programme will pay off in Classics
British team swap racing miles for a high-altitude training camp with hope of improving Spring Classics results
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.
Bikes of Unbound Gravel 2023: The rigs taking on the world's biggest gravel race
Custom Paintjobs and the pinnacle of gravel tech is on full display in Emporia, Kansas
By Henry Lord • Published
Unreleased Shimano GRX 12-speed spotted at Unbound Gravel
The potentially new groupset was spotted on Taylor Lideen's bike before this Saturday's racing
By Joe Baker • Published
Tweets of the week: Trek's new Lidl kit, Alaphilippe's unusual training and the Cavendish/Thomas show
Your favourite social media roundup from the world of professional cycling
By Adam Becket • Published
Tweets of the week: Geraint Thomas has a happy birthday and Elisa Balsamo gets her unicorn back
Oh and Jumbo-Visma gets back into its Twitter account
By Adam Becket • Published
21 things you didn't know about Geraint Thomas
Rugby over football, Eminem, podcasts – oh, and some cycling stuff
By James Shrubsall • Published
Maindy Flyers CC say moving Cardiff velodrome risks them missing the next Geraint Thomas
Earlier this week, historic Welsh club where Geraint Thomas, Owain Doull and Elinor Barker started out released open letter detailing their opposition to relocation
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Eyeing the Olympic mountain bike race in Paris, Peter Sagan will retire from WorldTour racing at season's end
Finishing how he started, the former road world champion will race one last mountain bike-focused year in 2024
By Anne-Marije Rook • Published
CW LIVE: Wout van Aert and Shirin van Anrooij win cyclo-cross in Koksijde; Rapha unveil EF Education kits; Police search for two suspects in Mark Cavendish robbery; Paris-Nice route announced; Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas to ride Tour Down Under
All the latest in the world of cycling
By Tom Davidson • Last updated
Tweets of the week: Ineos Grenadiers' three wise men, team jersey déjà vu and World Cup celebrations by bike
Here's our social media round-up, featuring a cycling all-star nativity
By Tom Davidson • Published
Geraint Thomas: 'I'm the best footballer at Ineos Grenadiers'
The Welsh cyclist shares his views on the World Cup, Arsenal's title chances and his own football skills
By Tom Davidson • Last updated