Greg Van Avermaet took his second victory of the season in E3 Harelbeke. The BMC rider was the fastest in the three-men final sprint, crossing the finish line ahead of Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R).
“It’s really nice to win a classic that matters, and for me it’s the first time in E3,” said Van Avermaet. “It gives me all the confidence for Flanders.”
It took almost two hours of racing for a breakaway to go clear when the peloton finally let six riders escape. The pace in the peloton remained high and the race took a turn when Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Floors) attacked on the Taaienberg with 75km to go. A small group of around 20 riders formed, including Greg Van Avermaet.
The group powered away from the peloton and had a small gap to begin with, before putting the hammer down, extending their lead and catching the breakaway with 66km to go. 30km later, the group was down to seven riders and within 10km, the podium trio had established a solid lead.
With 10km to go, the Van Avermaet trio had almost two minutes on the bunch and it was clear the podium would be decided in the sprint.
Van Avermaet kept a close eye on Gilbert and Naesen and had the legs to edge Gilbert out on the line, with Naesen coming in behind.
E3 Harelbeke 2017 results:
|1||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)|
|2||Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)|
|3||Oliver Naesen (AG2R)||,,|
|4||Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott)|
|5||Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|6||Michael Valgren (Astana)|
|7||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida)|
|8||Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors)|
|9||Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac)|
|10||Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac)|