2016 E3 Harelbeke

2016 E3 Harelbeke
2016 UCI World Tour, race 6 of 28
Logo of the 2016 E3 Harelbeke
Race details
Date 25 March 2016
Distance 206.4 km (128.3 mi)
Winning time 4h 49' 34"
Winner  Michał Kwiatkowski (POL) (Team Sky)
Second  Peter Sagan (SVK) (Tinkoff)
Third  Ian Stannard (GBR) (Team Sky)

The 2016 E3 Harelbeke (officially the Record Bank E3 Harelbeke) was a one-day cycling classic that took place on Friday 25 March 2016. It was the 59th edition of the E3 Harelbeke; it was the second one-day race of the 2016 UCI World Tour and the first of the cobbled classics.[1]

The race started and finished in Harelbeke, covering a distance of 206.4 kilometres (128.3 mi). The principal difficulty in the race came from the fifteen climbs of hills in the Flemish Ardennes. These mainly came in the second half of the race. The principal favourites for victory were Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek–Segafredo).

The race was won by Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky). He formed a breakaway 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the finish with Sagan and, despite hard work from the Etixx–Quick-Step team and from Cancellara, they came to the finish together. Kwiatkowski comfortably won the sprint and Sagan took second place. Kwiatkowski's teammate Ian Stannard won the group sprint for third place, eleven seconds behind.


The cobbled climb of the Paterberg, the steepest hill in the race

The E3 Harelbeke starts and finishes in the city of Harelbeke in West Flanders.[2] The principal difficulty in the race comes from the climbs – many of them cobbled – that appear in the 205-kilometre (127 mi) route; many of these climbs also appear in the Tour of Flanders, including the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. In 2016, there were several changes to the route from previous years, with a shorter distance and fewer climbs; Cycling Weekly suggested that these could make the race slightly easier than previous editions.[3]

The route left Harelbeke to the southeast, crossing the Scheldt river at Kluisbergen and proceeding through the outskirts of Oudenaarde. The first climb was the Katteberg after 30 kilometres (19 mi); there was then a flat section of cobbled road – the Paddestraat – before the roads turned to the east. The route passed to the north-east of Zottegem, then further east as far as Ninove with 65 kilometres (40 mi) completed. Here the roads turned back to the west into the Flemish Ardennes. The second climb of the day was La Houppe, which came after 115 kilometres (71 mi); the riders then continued into Ronse, the half-way point of the race, for the cobbled climb of the Oude Kruisberg. There were then seven climbs in the following 35 kilometres (22 mi): the Knokteberg, the Hotondberg, the Kortekeer, the Taaienberg (cobbled), the Boigneberg, the Eikenberg (cobbled) and the Stationsberg (cobbled). At this point there were 57 kilometres (35 mi) and five classified climbs remaining.[4]

The next climb, the Kapelberg came 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) later and was immediately followed by the Paterberg, the steepest climb of the day with 700 metres (770 yd) of cobbled road at an average gradient of 12% and sections of 20%. This was then followed after 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) by the partially cobbled, 2.2-kilometre (1.4 mi) climb of the Oude Kwaremont. The penultimate climb of the day was the Karnemelkbeekstraat, 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the finish. At this point, the route crossed back over the Scheldt and returned north-west towards Harelbeke. The final climb, the Tiegemberg, came with 18 kilometres (11 mi) remaining. The last part of the race was flat, with the final 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) a final loop through Harelbeke to the finish line.[5][6]

Categorized climbs in the 2016 E3 Harelbeke[7]
Number Name Distance from finish (km) Road surface Length (m) Average gradient (%) Maximum gradient (%)
1 Katteberg 176 asphalt 600 6.7% 8%
2 La Houppe 112 asphalt 3440 3.3% 10%
3 Oude Kruisberg 98 cobbles 800 4.8% 9%
4 Knokteberg 89 asphalt 1530 5.3% 13.3%
5 Hotondberg 86 asphalt 1200 4% 8%
6 Kortekeer 79 asphalt 1000 6.4% 17%
7 Taaienberg 74 cobbles 650 9.5% 18%
8 Boigneberg 66 asphalt 2180 5.8% 15%
9 Eikenberg 63 cobbles 1200 5.5% 11%
10 Stationsberg 58 cobbles 460 3.2% 5.7%
11 Kapelberg 47 asphalt 900 4% 7%
12 Paterberg 42 cobbles 700 12% 20%
13 Oude Kwaremont 37 asphalt/cobbles 2200 4.2% 11%
14 Karnemelkbeekstraat 31 asphalt 1530 4.9% 7.3%
15 Tiegemberg 19 asphalt 1000 6.5% 9%

Participating teams

There were 25 teams selected to start the race. All 18 UCI WorldTeams were automatically invited;[8] the race organisers also gave wildcard invitations to seven UCI Professional Continental teams. These included two Belgian teams (Wanty–Groupe Gobert and Topsport Vlaanderen–Baloise), two French teams (Fortuneo–Vital Concept and Direct Énergie), an Italian team (Southeast–Venezuela), a Dutch team (Roompot–Oranje Peloton) and a German team (Bora–Argon 18).[9] Each team was permitted to enter eight riders.[10] Orica–GreenEDGE and Team Dimension Data each entered seven riders and BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet withdrew through illness, so 197 riders started the race.[11][12]

UCI WorldTeams[11]

UCI Professional Continental teams[11]

Pre-race favourites

The 2015 champion, Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, was not present to defend his title; he was riding the 2016 Volta a Catalunya instead. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who won the 2014 race, did start, as did Fabian Cancellara (Trek–Segafredo), who had won the race on three occasions in the past, and Tom Boonen (Etixx–Quick-Step), who held the record for the most victories with five.[3] Cancellara was riding the race for the final time, having announced that the 2016 season would be his last as a professional, and was in strong form with victories in the Strade Bianche and a time-trial stage of the 2016 Tirreno–Adriatico. Sagan, the reigning world champion, had also been performing strongly, but did not have any victories so far in 2016. Boonen had not demonstrated any strong form.[13]

Although Boonen had not shown strong form, he came to the race with a strong team. His teammates included Niki Terpstra, Zdeněk Štybar, Stijn Vandenbergh and Matteo Trentin, all of whom were possible winners of the race.[3] Despite Thomas's absence, Sky also brought a strong team: they had Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and the former world champion Michał Kwiatkowski.[14] Other possible victors included Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL–Jumbo), Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto–Soudal) and Lars Boom (Astana). Greg Van Avermaet would also have been among the favourites, but he was ruled out of the race due to illness.[3][12]

Race summary

After 40 kilometres (25 mi) of racing, an eight-man breakaway formed. The riders involved were Bert De Backer (Team Giant–Alpecin), Antoine Demoitié (Wanty–Groupe Gobert), Nico Denz (AG2R La Mondiale), Tony Hurel (Direct Energie), Sjoerd van Ginneken (Roompot–Oranje Peloton), Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling), Jay Thomson (Dimension Data), and Wouter Wippert (Cannondale). They extended their lead to five minutes with 55 kilometres (34 mi) completed, but their advantage was reduced to less than four minutes by the efforts of Etixx–Quick-Step in the peloton. It was reduced to less than two minutes by the time the riders reached the Taaienberg with 73 kilometres (45 mi) remaining, as Trek put an effort into bringing the lead group back.[15][16]

On the Taaienberg, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto–Soudal) led the peloton, with Boonen right behind him. A ten-rider group broke away from the peloton over the climb, with Benoot and Boonen joined by Roelandts, Cancellara, Boom, Vanmarcke, Daniel Oss (BMC) and three other Etixx–Quick-Step riders (Terpstra, Štybar and Trentin).[15] On the next climb, the Boigneberg, Cancellara's rear derailleur failed and it took more than a minute for his team to bring him a replacement bike, putting him a long way behind the other favourites.[16] Shortly afterwards, the breakaway was caught by the chasing group; the combined group was then caught by another group that contained Sagan and Kwiatkowski to create a 20-man lead group, although Štybar soon suffered a puncture and fell out of the group. Cancellara, meanwhile, was in a group led by his teammates Yaroslav Popovych and Markel Irizar around two minutes behind.[15]

By the time the race reached the Paterberg, the gap was around half a minute. On the climb, Cancellara attacked from the chasing group, with Štybar on his wheel; meanwhile, a ten-man group broke away from the leaders. After the Paterberg and the subsequent Oude Kwaremont, Cancellara and Štybar eventually reached this group.[16] On the next hill, the Karnemelkbeekstraat, Sagan and Kwiatkowski attacked; over the next 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) they extended their lead to over 20 seconds. This extended to 30 seconds on the Tiegemberg and reached 36 seconds on the final stretch to Harelbeke.[17] The Etixx–Quick-Step riders were forced to do all the work in the chasing group, as none of the other riders in the group would collaborate with them.[15]

After a long effort from Terpstra, Boonen took up the effort on the front of the chasing group and the gap to Sagan and Kwiatkowski began to reduce. The gap fell to under 11 seconds with 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) remaining, but the leading pair were not caught.[15][16] After going under the flamme rouge, Kwiatkowski manoeuvred Sagan to the front and surprised him by opening up his sprint with 300 metres (330 yd) remaining. Sagan was unable to respond and Kwiatkowski took the race victory, with Sagan four seconds behind.[18] The chasing group finished 11 seconds behind, with Stannard beating Cancellara in the sprint for third place.[16]


Result (top 10 of 106 finishers)[19]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Michał Kwiatkowski (POL) Team Sky 4hr 49' 34"
2  Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff + 4"
3  Ian Stannard (GBR) Team Sky + 11"
4  Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Trek–Segafredo + 11"
5  Jasper Stuyven (BEL) Trek–Segafredo + 11"
6  Lars Boom (NED) Astana + 11"
7  Tiesj Benoot (BEL) Lotto–Soudal + 11"
8  Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) LottoNL–Jumbo + 11"
9  Jempy Drucker (LUX) BMC Racing Team + 11"
10  Daniel Oss (ITA) BMC Racing Team + 11"

Post-race analysis


Michał Kwiatkowski (pictured in 2015) won the race.

Kwiatkowski's victory was his first since joining Team Sky at the beginning of 2016. He said after the race that his main target was still the Ardennes classics rather than the remainder of the cobbled classics season, but that there was no reason why he could not succeed in both. He pointed out that he was glad to have escaped with Sagan as they worked well together – they had arrived at the finish of the 2014 Strade Bianche in a similar situation, with Kwiatkowski the winner there as well. He said that he thought he had surprised Sagan by sprinting first, rather than waiting for Sagan's sprint. He also acknowledged that he knew from his own experience a year before that it was "very difficult" to race with the pressure of the world champion's rainbow jersey.[18]

Sagan revealed that he had been told on the radio that he had to ride hard to stay away from the chasing group, but that he had no power left in the final part of the race as he had done the majority of the work in the breakaway. Nevertheless, he said that he was happy with the race.[20] Cancellara, meanwhile, said that, although he was disappointed with the result in itself, he had pride in the way he had performed in coming back from his mechanical failure. After his long pursuit, with the help of several teammates in different groups, he had barely been able to follow the other riders in the group on the Tiegemberg.[21]

UCI World Tour standings

In the season-long UCI World Tour competition, Kwiatkowski moved into the top ten thanks to the points won in the race. Sagan, meanwhile, moved from seventh to third, just ten points behind the leader, BMC's Richie Porte. Poland moved into the top ten of the nations' rankings, while Sky remained top in the teams' rankings.[22]

UCI World Tour standings on 25 March 2016[22]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Richie Porte (AUS) BMC Racing Team 159
2  Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team 156
3  Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff 149
4  Sergio Henao (COL) Team Sky 115
5  Simon Gerrans (AUS) Orica–GreenEDGE 112
6  Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) LottoNL–Jumbo 141
7  Geraint Thomas (GBR) Team Sky 104
8  Michał Kwiatkowski (POL) Team Sky 102
9  Ben Swift (GBR) Team Sky 88
10  Alberto Contador (ESP) Tinkoff 86




  1. Wynn, Nigel (6 November 2016). "UCI WorldTour calendar 2016". Cycling Weekly. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  2. Technical Guide 2016, p. 12.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Puddicombe, Stephen (24 March 2016). "E3 Harelbeke 2016 preview". Cycling Weekly. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  4. Technical Guide 2016, pp. 18–23.
  5. Technical Guide 2016, pp. 12–14.
  6. Technical Guide 2016, pp. 23–25.
  7. Technical Guide 2016, pp. 18–25.
  8. "UCI Cycling Regulations: Part 2: Road Races page 110 article 2.15.127" (PDF). Union Cycliste Internationale. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  9. "Organisatie E3 Harelbeke kent zeven wildcards toe" [The E3 Harelbeke organisation allocates seven wildcards]. Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 15 February 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  10. Technical Guide 2016, p. 8.
  11. 1 2 3 "E3 Harelbeke (start list)". ProCyclingStats. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  12. 1 2 "Greg Van Avermaet out of E3 Harelbeke due to illness". Cycling News. Immediate Media Company. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  13. "E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem provide key test before Tour of Flanders". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  14. Brown, Gregor (24 March 2016). "Preview: Van Avermaet primed for E3 victory". VeloNews. Competitor Group, Inc. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Rogers, Neal (26 March 2016). "To the line! Kwiatkowski wins a thrilling E3 Harelbeke ahead of Sagan". CyclingTips. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 "Kwiatkowski wins E3 Harelbeke over Sagan". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  17. Powlison, Spencer (25 March 2016). "Kwiatkowski defeats Sagan at E3". VeloNews. Competitor Group, Inc. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  18. 1 2 Ryan, Barry (25 March 2016). "Kwiatkowski lays down Tour of Flanders marker with E3 Harelbeke victory". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  19. "E3 Harelbeke (result)". ProCyclingStats. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  20. Ryan, Barry (25 March 2016). "Sagan 'without legs' in the finale of E3 Harelbeke". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  21. O'Shea, Sadhbh (25 March 2016). "Cancellara proud of team effort after mechanical at E3 Harelbeke". Cyclingnews.com. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  22. 1 2 "UCI WorldTour Ranking - 2016". uci.ch. Union Cycliste Internationale. 25 March 2016. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.

External links

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