E3 Saxo Classic 2023: Favourites

Mathieu van der Poel msr - E3 Saxo Classic 2023: Favouritesfoto: Cor VosThe route of the E3 Saxo Classic is similar to the Tour of Flanders, only shorter. So small wonder the race has often been nicknamed 'The Little Tour of Flanders'. And even smaller wonder that the major contenders to win the races overlap.

Yet, a strange thing is that the only rider who won the Tour of Flanders twice in the last three editions – Mathieu van der Poel – never turned out on top in the E3 Saxo Classic. Which, on the other hand, makes sense as he only participated in 2021. But this time he will be there, along with other hot favourites such as Mads Pedersen, Tadej Pogacar and defending champion Wout van Aert.

The E3 Saxo Bank Classic includes both stretches of pavé and short and sharp climbs – often cobbled as well -, which is a combination that really wears the riders out. The route amounts to 204 kilometres, while most obstacles are crammed together in the second half of the race. Tiegemberg is the last of seventeen climbs and it’s crested with 20 kilometres to go.

Long-range attacks are quite common in the E3. In fact, we saw Jumbo-Visma’s sterling duo Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte attack last year on the Paterberg with 42 kilometres to go. The two opened up a 2 minutes gap and they crossed the line celebrating, leader Van Aert obviously in first position. He succeeded Kasper Asgreen (2021, solo), Zdenek Stybar (2019, five-up sprint), Niki Terpstra (2018, solo), Greg Van Avermaet (2017, three-up sprint), Michal Kwiatkowski (2016, two-up sprint), Geraint Thomas (2015, solo) and Peter Sagan (2014, four-up sprint), Fabian Cancellara (2013, solo), and Tom Boonen (2012, bunch sprint). The race did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19.

So bunch sprints hardly ever occur in the E3, but the race has seen its fair share of successful late attacks and sprints of select groups.

Favourites E3 Saxo Classic 2023

***** Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Mads Pedersen
**** Tadej Pogacar, Dylan van Baarle, Søren Kragh Andersen, Biniam Girmay
*** Kasper Asgreen, Matej Mohoric, Stefan Küng, Michael Matthews, Filippo Ganna
** Julian Alaphilippe, Alberto Bettiol, Tim Wellens, Tiesj Benoot, Valentin Madouas
* Bob Jungels, Benoît Cosnefroy, Jasper Stuyven, Anthony Turgis, Magnus Sheffield

Watch the highlights of recent races here:
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