The ‘Flemish Week’ kicks off with a gradual build up. The Katteberg at kilometre 28 is the only obstacle in the first hour of action, while La Houppe and Kanarieberg appear some 60 kilometres later.
The race is a slow burner, but it starts to catch fire after 100 kilometres. The riders tackle nine climbs within less than 50 kilometres – Oude Kruisberg, Knokteberg, Hotondberg, Kortekeer, Taaienberg, Berg ten Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationberg – before continuing onto the flat cobbles of the Mariaborrestraat.
Another series of climbs is expected to do even more damage. The Kapelberg and the cobbled combo Paterberg/Oude Kwaremont follow in quick succession. Last year, the race was decided in this section when a group featuring Van Aert, Benoot, Teunissen, Laporte, Asgreen, Küng, Madouas, Narvaez, Van Baarle, Turgis, Tiller, Girmay, Mohoric, Stuyven, Sénéchal and Gogl distanced the field. There were still 50 kilometres to go – quite a distance -, but team mates Van Aert and Laporte launched a duo attack. And a succesfull one. They were 20 seconds clear on Oude Kwaremont and gradually the two extended their lead to 2 minutes. Van Aert took the win in Harelbeke, thus succeeding Asgreen as the E3 victor.
After the Oude Kwaremont the route climbs up the Karnemelkbeekstraat and continues on the cobbles on the Varent. The last ‘helling’, Tiegemberg, is crested 19.3 kilometres before the line. The finale takes place on the flat.
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Other interesting reads: results and start list 2023 E3 Saxo Classic.
E3 Saxo Classic 2023: routes, profiles, more
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