E3 Harelbeke – A Brief History

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E3 Harelbeke is the first world tour race of the 2.5 week long cobbled classics season. With its first edition dating back to 1958, E3 Harelbeke is a 210 kilometers long course that starts and finishes in Harelbeke, located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The race, originally named Harelbeke-Anvers-Harelbeke, takes it name from the E3 motorway that was built in mid sixties.

Belgian cyclist Tom Boonen holds the record for most wins with 5 victories followed by Rik Van Looy (4) and Jan Raas (3). More recently Fabian Cancellara won the race back to back in 2010 and 2011 and Filippo Pozzato was victorious in 2009.

Dan Martin Seizes the Overall Lead with Solo Attack

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Garmin-Sharp’s Irish rider Dan Martin, days after his 6-month ban has expired,  clinched a monumental stage victory with a long solo attack and moved on top of the general classification. 2010 Volta winner Joaquim Rodriguez and Movistar’s rising Colombian Nairu Quintana finished the stage in 2nd and 3rd places.

Martin was the sole survivor of a 25-rider escape group formed early in the race and kept his pace all the way through the ski resort of Port Aine. With this victory, Dan Martin now leads the general classification by 10 seconds ahead of Rodriguez.

After overnight race leader Alejandro Valverde crashed and quit the race along with team-mate Eros Capecchi, Quintana became the new race leader for Movistar and stands 32 seconds away from Martin.

“It’s one of my best victories,” told Martin. “To have Ryder Hesjedal working for me in the breakaway like that all day was just incredible. I didn’t do much in the breakaway. I felt kind of bad, but it’s an incredible victory for me today. I know how difficult it is to win out a breakaway. To finally get a victory here in the mountains of my home race is very important for me.”

Final 3 Kilometers

GC After Stage 4

1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 18:48:38
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 10″
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 32″
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 36″
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 39″
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 51″
7. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 1′ 00″
8. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp 1′ 07″
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 1′ 13″
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol 1′ 15″

Stage 4 Results

1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 6:02:40
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 36″
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
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Oscar Gatto Wins 2013 Dwars door Vlaanderen

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Vini Fantini’s Oscar Gatto won the semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen outsprinting Astana’s Borut Bozic and Mathew Hayman of SKY. Thomas Voeckler attacked from the winning group of 10 riders with more than 6 kilometers to go but got caught in the final meters, eventually finishing in fourth place. Gatto became the first Italian to win the Dwars door Vlaanderen in its 68 year history.

“This is a great emotion, winning in Belgium, where the best races are ridden,” said Gatto. “As a small team, we do not have many chances, so I had a lot of motivation at the start to show that we are perhaps deserving of more opportunities. To be the first Italian winner is something extra special and feels great.”

Dwars door Vlaanderen – “Across Flanders” – is the opener of the cobbled classics season and the final warmup race for E3 Harelbeke on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.

Final Kilometers

Dwars door Vlaanderen 2013 Results

1. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 4:43:40 
2. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
3. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling
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Volta a Catalunya 2013 Preview – Stage 4

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Bradley Wiggins‘ attack just under the final kilometer banner  in Stage 3 was not a real shakeout for the overall classification, but before the second and final mountain-top finish, made things quite interesting.

Two back-to-back Hors-Category climbs just before the stage finish means there will be lots of opportunities for all the GC contenders to make a move. Movistar will set the pace for Alejandro Valverde on the climbs today but expect SKY to take charge again in the mid stages of Port-Anne climb. It will be very hard to bounce back considering none of the remaining stages of Volta 2013 will allow much time differences, so all riders will be utterly cautious till the very end.

GC Before Stage 4

1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 12:45:28
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 4″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 7″
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
6. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 26″
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 30″
8. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp 35″

Quintana Attacks to Stage Victory as Valverde Becomes the new Race Leader

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Movistar’s Colombian climber Nairo Quintana attacked within the final kilometers of the first mountaintop finish of this year’s Volta a Catalunya. His team-mate and GC contender Alejandro Valverde finished the stage in 2nd place and became the new race leader whereas Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez finished third.

After the remaining members of the day’s breakaway was caught by SKY with 4 kilometers to go, Tom Danielson and Jurgen van den Broeck escaped one after the other and managed to make gaps around 10 seconds, but none of these attempts were successful. SKY’s “Sir” Bradley Wiggins made his move with 1km to go, but Quintana never slipped from his backwheel, and as the remaining riders approached the duo, attacked within the last 500 meters for his first stage win of the season.

“There was a strong headwind at the top of the climb and our strategy was waiting for that very last moment to attack,” told Quintana. “The attack by Wiggins took the speed up and it was really good for us to know the climb, since we knew that the hardest point came at the end of it.”

GC after Stage 3

1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 12:45:28
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 4″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 7″
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
6. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 26″
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 30″
8. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp 35″

Stage 3 Results

1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 5′ 01′ 20″
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 6″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
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