Quick-Step Floors Team to E3 Harelbeke
Five-time winner Tom Boonen and Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert will headline our squad for Friday's Flandrien appointment.
No sooner has the dust settled over Dwars door Vlaanderen, the first cobbled World Tour race of March, that the riders turn their attention to another important fixture of the classics campaign, E3 Harelbeke, which this year celebrates its 60th edition.
Starting and finishing in Harelbeke, the 206.1km-long event will take the peloton over a course very similar to next week's Ronde van Vlaanderen, the season's second Monument. This means the riders will go on narrow roads and challenging pavé sectors, as well as over the famed Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Oude Kwaremont or Paterberg – all coming thick and fast – which will shatter the bunch and incite to attacks, thus ensuring the race will be an intense and dynamic one in its second part.
Tom Boonen, who in 2012 sprinted to victory taking his fifth crown at E3 Harelbeke and surpassing Rik Van Looy on the all-time winners list, will make his 13th and final appearance at the Belgian classic, six days after completing Milano-Sanremo, where Quick-Step Floors' aggressive tactic resulted in a third place for debutant Julian Alaphilippe.
Fellow countryman and Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert is set to continue his outing on the cobbles this season, following his second place in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen, a race in which he was instrumental in Yves Lampaert's success. Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin – all former podium finishers at E3 Harelbeke – will give the team as many options once things heat up and attacks start coming in, while Jack Bauer, Iljo Keisse and local favourite Julien Vermote are sure to add considerable firepower to the team led from behind the wheel by Wilfried Peeters and Tom Steels.
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