E3 Harelbeke 2018: Niki Terpstra solos to victory

At 206 kilometres, the 2018 edition of E3 Harelbeke takes in fifteen climbs. Team-mates Yves Lampaert and Niki Terpstra head out together on Taaienberg, with 72 kilometres to go. On the last cobbles of the Varent the Dutchman goes solo to power to the win. Philippe Gilbert sprints to second place, title defender Greg Van Avermaet comes in third. (Slideshow route/profile)

Results 2018 E3 Harelbeke

1. Niki Terpstra (nld)
2. Philippe Gilbert (bel) + 0.19
3. Greg Van Avermaet (bel) s.t.
4. Oliver Naesen (bel) s.t.
5. Tiesj Benoot (bel) s.t.
6. Jasper Stuyven (bel) s.t.
7. Sep Vanmarcke (bel) s.t.
8. Gianni Moscon (ita) s.t.
9. Zdenek Stybar (cze) s.t.
10. Stefan Küng (swi) s.t.

Race report
Attacks are flying after the start, but it only sticks when Pim Ligthart, Kenny Van Melsen, Truls Korsaeth, Nelson Oliveira, Damien Gaudin, Simone Consonni, Jeremy Lecroq and Lukas Spengler join forces. They open up a gap of more than 7 minutes.

A huge crash halfway shatters the peloton. QuickStep starts pulling hard in the first group to distance the likes of Sep Vanmarcke, Jasper Stuyven, Michael Matthews, Oliver Naesen and Arnaud Démare.

When the lead of the front group has fallen below 2 minutes Gaudin and Ligthart head out together on the Knokteberg, while team-mates Yves Lampaert and Niki Terpstra attack on the Taaienberg – with 72 kms to go – to track them down and leave them behind.

Prominent chasers Benoot, Sagan and Van Avermaet struggle to shut the gap down, partly because Gilbert and Stybar are interfering. When Van Avermaet tries to bridge across on his own Benoot and Gilbert rejoin him. But still, the gap sits fixed at 50 seconds for tens of kms. Behind them a group Naesen, Stuyven, Matthews and Vanmarcke tracks the second chase group down, while Sagan can’t follow the pace.

Lampaert is struggling at Karnemelkbeekstraat, but Terpstra waits for him. Meanwhile, the group Naesen hooks on with the group Van Avermaet. Time to make the catch, right?

Terpstra heads out alone on the cobbles of the Varent. Still 22 kms to go and the chasers come closer with every km until they spoil it for themselves.

Van Avermaet speeds up with 5 kms left. Trentin counter-attacks before Stuyven goes. And on it goes. Obviously, the repeated attacks and lulls do not help to chase the lone leader down. Terpstra says thanks and solos to victory. Philippe Gilbert sprints to second place, Greg Van Avermaet comes in third.

Read also: route 2018 E3 Harelbeke.

E3 Harelbeke 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more

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Niki Terpstra

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