The E3 BinckBank Classic is the new name for the race we have for years called the E3 Harelbeke. This race covers 200km, and includes some tough short climbs and cobbled sections. The E3 is a sort of minor version of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and borrows of the classic climbs including the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg and the Taaienberg. The race takes place on Friday, 29th of March, and these are our selection of riders we favourite to win.
Niki Terpstra won this race in 2018 and is therefore immediately an important candidate for the win in 2019. The big difference in 2019 is that Terpstra is riding for a different team: he’s now part of Direct Energie and he won’t be able to benefit from the tactical superiority of his former stable Deceuninck–Quick-Step. Terpstra has already been at the front in a couple of races this season, but he has yet to bag a win. Hopefully he’ll fix that in this race.
Oliver Naesen has made a big impression already in 2019. During Paris–Nice he was an invaluable support rider for his leader Romain Bardet, and when allowed to ride on his own account he has booked good results. He was an impressive second in Milan–San Remo 2019 and he began the Flemish Classics with a workmanly 10th place in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He is ready for a major victory and his team is riding to support him.
At the start of every Flemish race week, you can basically always write down his name as a potential winner: Peter Sagan. He has won this race in the past, albeit back in 2014. Sagan has yet to win any race of note so far in 2019, though he knows he can do it and may be more motivated than usual to be able to raise his arms aloft in victory.
Wout van Aert
In 2018, ex-world champion cyclocrosser Wout van Aert showed that he’s good at road racing too. He has continued that form in 2019. He was 3rd in the Strade Bianche for the second year in a row. And his presence in the group of elite riders during the finale of the Milan–San Remo meant he would sprint for the victory. He ended that race in 6th place, surrounded by the great names in cycling today. He didn’t ride the E3 in 2018, but he did finish in the top 10 of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. He also has the added bonus of help from a very strong Team Jumbo–Visma squad.
Philippe Gilbert (aka Phil Gil) has spent the first few races of the 2019 season as a support rider for other members of his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team mates. Those team mates also won, and Phil Gil is perfectly happy with that role. But there are a couple of race coming up which he would also like to show that he’s a winner at heart. He has shown in the past that these types of races are his thing. He won the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2017 and even though he has been working on behalf of other riders, his form is good right now. It wouldn’t surprise us if Deceuninck–Quick-Step once again goes home with the prize.
Another couple of names to keep an eye our for at the E3 BinckBank Classic are Greg van Avermaet, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar and Sebastian Langeveld.