Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was too strong in the finishing kilometres of the Belgian cobble classic E3 Harelbeke to out sprint Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and win the 213km classic in Belgium.
Sagan recovered from a crash after the 100km mark with a blistering chase to see him make the final cut and claim a clean win.
Sagan was up against the two-man Omega Pharma-Quickstep wrecking crew of Stijn Vandenbergh and Terpstra, and Thomas, but marked them carefully and then dominated the sprint after earlier splitting the decisive attack. The quartet worked together until 3km to race, then the games began. Vandenbergh tried twice to attack, but Thomas and Sagan took turns bringing him back. The lanky Belgian dove for the 1km to go banner, but Sagan was quick to react. Vandenbergh tried again to surprise the others at a median with 500m to go, but it was not enough to dislodge Sagan, who then won the sprint handily.
[quote_box_center]“After 100km I was involved in a crash with my teammate Oscar Gatto, and I had to change my bike with (Alan) Marangoni, the only one who has my same frame. I had to ride 40km with different measurements and finally, when I had the chance to get my bike from the team car, I had to recover. The feeling was good only in the second part of the race. To win a classic you need to ride hard, to have a good condition and to be also lucky.”[/quote_box_center]
E3 Harelbeke: 213km, Harelbeke
1 Peter Sagan (SVK) Cannondale 4hr 56min 31sec
2 Niki Terpstra (NED) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky
4 Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
5 Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) Belkin 0:01:16
6 Tony Gallopin (FRA) Lotto-Belisol
7 Borut Bozic (SLO) Astana 0:01:19
8 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
9 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Trek Factory Racing
10 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC