E3 Saxo Classic 2024: Favourites

Mathieu van der Poel - E3 Saxo Classic 2024: 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'. Obviously, the major contenders to win the races overlap.

Sometimes it even happens that the winner of the E3 turns out on top in the Tour of Flanders. Which Kasper Asgreen last pulled off in 2021. He soloed to triumph in the E3 Saxo Bank and nine days later he outsprinted Mathieu van der Poel in De Ronde.

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 over 200 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 do it in 2022. They attacked as far back as the Paterberg, with 42 kilometres to go. The two opened up a 2 minutes gap and they crossed the line celebrating, Van Aert in first position.

Last year, the finale was much more entertaining. Tadej Pogacar attacked from a strong lead group on the steep cobbles of Oude Kwaremont. Mathieu van der Poel followed him like a shadow, while Wout van Aert bridged across after the summit. The three super stars kept the chasers at bay before Van Aert outsprinted Van der Poel and Pogacar.

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. As said, Van Aert won the race in 2023 in a three-up sprint and in 2022 with a duo attack, while Kasper Asgreen won edition 2021 with a solo. The race did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the Dane thus succeeded 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), Peter Sagan (2014, four-up sprint), Fabian Cancellara (2013, solo), and Tom Boonen (2012, bunch sprint).

Van Aert could send the Flemish fans into a cycling frenzy by winning for the third year in a row. Which is something only Rik van Looy (1964, 1965, 1966), Jan Raas (1979, 1980, 1981) and Tom Boonen did before. After winning in 2005, 2005 and 2006, the latter even added another win in 2007.

Favourites E3 Saxo Classic 2024

*** Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Mads Pedersen
** Matej Mohoric, Alberto Bettiol, Tim Wellens, Matteo Jorgenson
* Michael Matthews, Dylan van Baarle, Stefan Küng, Julian Alaphilippe

Watch the highlights of recent races here:
Leave a comment
No comments yet, your opinion is most welcome.

Related articles
E3 Saxo Classic 2024: Overview E3 Saxo Classic: Winners and records
More articles