Cobbles season continues on Friday as Flanders Classic week opens with E3 Harelbeke. The race sees the peloton barrel into a block of racing up the hellingen of Belgium and over the pavé of northern France.
The EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team sends a hearty roster to the northern classics of Belgium, with the aim of supporting Sep Vanmarcke and responding to the turmoil of the cobbles. Vanmarcke has already proven his mettle this season with a strong ride for third place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Joining Vanmarcke at E3 are Matti Breschel, Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Tom Scully, and Tom Van Asbroeck. Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem sees a slight change, as Sacha Modolo and Dan McLay replace Docker and Van Asbroeck.
“E3 is a hard and honest race,” said Vanmarcke. “The many hills on a short period make it very hard. The distance from those sections until the finish is still 30-40km, so it’s not easy for attacking on the hills and staying in front. That’s where it gets interesting for sprinters as well. If they can survive, they still have a chance to come back.
“It’s one week before the Tour of Flanders, so you have to be strong in E3,” Vanmarcke added. “The opening weekend was good. Everybody did his job. There is always space for improving, but also, the condition of everybody should be on its best by now, so that should give the extra we need.”
Vanmarcke recently raced Tirreno-Adriatico. He’s spent the last week at home in Anzegem, a few kilometers from the Tour of Flanders course.