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2021 E3 Saxo Bank Classic
(World Tour), Belgium

63rd edition: Friday, March 26, 2021

E3 Saxo Bank Classic podium history | 2019 edition (race was not run in 2020) | 2022 edition

Harelbeke - Harelbeke, 203.9 km.

Kasper Asgreen

Kasper Asgreen wins a big one. Photo: Getty Sport

Weather at the start/finish city of Harelbeke at 1:30 PM, local time: 13C (55F), mostly cloudy, with the wind from the south-southwest at 27 km/hr (17 mph). There is a 10% chance of rain.

The race: The Bora-hansgrohe team did not start because team member Matt Walls tested postive for Covid-19

Here's the race report from winn Kasper Asgreen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

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Kasper Asgreen won an amazing edition of E3 Harelbeke, but that doesn’t tell the full story of Friday’s race, which our team played perfectly from start to finish. Asgreen became the first Danish rider in more than three decades to triumph at the Belgian classic, which many view as a Ronde van Vlaanderen rehearsal, backed up by an incredible team who took the race by the scruff of its neck and controlled all the moves with clinical precision.

“Winning this makes me super proud and happy! Today’s result shows that these races that I love so much suit me and at the same time serves as confirmation of the hard work I put in during the winter.”

“My teammates were just unbelievable and showed again why we are the Wolfpack! We wanted to make the race really hard and we did it, and at the end we ripped off the rewards”, Kasper said after the finish.

Everything exploded on the Taaienberg, where Deceunick – Quick-Step rode flat out with all seven guys amassed at the front, hacking the field to pieces and dealing a blow, which although not decisive, ended up playing a huge role in the outcome. Four members of the Wolfpack made it into the nine-man front group, from where Kasper Asgreen rode clear on the Boigneberg. The attempts to follow him were quickly brought to heel by reigning champion Zdenek Stybar, and so the Danish Champion continued at the front, battling through the storng headwind and leaving behind hill after hill, including the Paterberg and the Oude Kwaremont.

When a new chasing group emerged with 30 kilometers to go, Stybar and Florian Sénéchal were there, and they were soon joined by Yves Lampaert, after a mad chase of the Belgian Champion that saw him claw back half a minute on the flat section off the Oude Kwaremont. Unfortunately, Yves didn’t sit too much in the group, from where he dropped out inside the last 15 kilometers due to a puncture, but Zdenek and Florian continued to ride flawlessly and mark moves, including those coming on the Tiegemberg, the final hurdle of the 203.9km race, which contained a total of 17 hills.

Eventually, the forcing of those behind meant that Kasper’s time off the front came to an end with 12 kilometers to go, but the 26-year-old remained in the elite group and patiently waited for the last five kilometers before a last roll of the dice. Winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last season, Asgreen used some traffic islands in his favour, attacking on the right side of the road and motoring clear of the group where his teammates expertly shut down every attempt to bring him back.

Under the flamme rouge, Kasper had a 30-second margin which was more than enough for him to sit up with 200 meters to go and savour his biggest victory to date, and Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s eighth at E3 Harelbeke. To round out the Wolfpack’s perfect day on the Flemish bergs, Florian Sénéchal sprinted to second – his best ever result in a cobbled Classic – while Zdenek Stybar took fifth place.

“I felt good today, and also in the weeks prior to the race. I also knew every part of the course, as I did a recon this spring, so I had a lot of confidence during the race. We wanted to win, we were not afraid to open the race early and I’m happy I could pull it off. To win here against the best Classics riders in the world means a lot for my morale ahead of the next big one-day races, especially after a day like this, when I was on the attack for more than 50 kilometers, got caught and still had enough to try again in the finale.”

“I don’t know if I surprised the other guys in the group with my move, but I tried to use that traffic island to put some distance between them and myself so I could get a gap before they could react. I was aware I had one last chance and took advantage of it, knowing that in case it didn’t work out, we had Florian and Zdenek ready to pounce”, explained the Danish powerhouse, the second rider from his country to win E3 Harelbeke.

Not just Kasper wrote history Friday afternoon, but also Sénéchal, whose enormous effort and flawless commitment saw him became the first French rider in history to finish the prestigious World Tour Classic in the top 3: “Racing in this team is a dream come true for me and it feels amazing to play a part in a big race like this. I am happy for Kasper, he was incredible today, and happy for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, as the whole team was superb today. Our extraordinary collective strength was on show today in this beautiful but hard race, which bodes well ahead of the next classics. I’m also happy with my second place, it’s my best result in a World Tour race and it came at a great moment in the season.”

Complete Results:

203.9 kilometers raced at an average speed of 42.288 km/hr

1 Kasper Asgreen Deceuninck-Quick Step 4hr 42min 37sec
2 Florian Sénéchal Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 32sec
3 Mathieu van der Poel Alpecin-Fenix s.t.
4 Oliver Naesen Ag2r-Citroën s.t.
5 Zdenek Stybar Deceuninck-Quick Step s.t.
6 Greg Van Avermaet Ag2r-Citroën s.t.
7 Dylan Van Baarle INEOS Grenadiers s.t.
8 Markus Hoelgaard Uno-X 1:28
9 Gianni Vermeersch Alpecin-Fenix 1:30
10 Marco Haller Bahrain Victorious s.t.
11 Wout Van Aert Jumbo-Visma s.t.
12 Anthony Turgis Total Direct Energie 1:34
13 Yves Lampaert Deceuninck-Quick Step 2:12
14 Jasper Stuyven Trek-Segafredo s.t.
15 Tiesj Benoot Team DSM s.t.
16 Florian Vermeersch Lotto Soudal 2:47
17 Jasper De Buyst Lotto Soudal s.t.
18 Matteo Trentin UAE Team Emirates s.t.
19 Dimitri Claeys Qhubeka-Assos s.t.
20 Stefan Küng Groupama-FDJ s.t.
21 Jelle Wallays Cofidis 2:49
22 Joris Nieuwenhuis Team DSM 2:56
23 Johan Jacobs Movistar s.t.
24 Taco van der Hoorn Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
25 Tom Pidcock INEOS Grenadiers s.t.
26 Davide Ballerini Deceuninck-Quick Step 3:04
27 Ivan Garcia Movistar s.t.
28 Jonas Koch Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
29 John Degenkolb Lotto Soudal s.t.
30 Sep Vanmarcke Israel Start-Up Nation s.t.
31 Heinrich Haussler Bahrain Victorious s.t.
32 Michael Gogl Qhubeka-Assos s.t.
33 Mikkel Bjerg UAE Team Emirates s.t.
34 Rui Oliveira UAE Team Emirates s.t.
35 Edward Theuns Trek-Segafredo s.t.
36 Arjen Livyns Bingoal-WB s.t.
37 Damien Touzé Ag2r-Citroën s.t.
38 Jake Stewart Groupama-FDJ s.t.
39 Loic Vliegen Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
40 Lindsay De Vylder Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
41 Dries van Gestel Total Direct Energie s.t.
42 Søren Kragh Andersen Team DSM s.t.
43 Owain Doull INEOS Grenadiers s.t.
44 Alberto Bettiol EF Education-NIPPO s.t.
45 Victor Campenaerts Qhubeka-Assos s.t.
46 Niki Terpstra Total Direct Energie s.t.
47 Michael Schär Ag2r-Citroën 3:09
48 Rasmus Tiller Uno-X 6:30
49 Nathan Van Hooydonck Jumbo-Visma 10:18
50 Stan Dewulf Ag2r-Citroën s.t.
51 André Greipel Israel Start-Up Nation 10:50
52 Dries De Bondt Alpecin-Fenix s.t.
53 Juri Hollmann Movistar s.t.
54 Lluis Mas Movistar s.t.
55 Pascal Eenkhoorn Jumbo-Visma s.t.
56 Robert Stannard Team BikeExchange s.t.
57 Sonny Colbrelli Bahrain Victorious s.t.
58 Andrea Pasqualon Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
59 Jonas Hvideberg Uno-X s.t.
60 Timo Roosen Jumbo-Visma s.t.
61 Kevin Geniets Groupama-FDJ s.t.
62 Alex Kirsch Trek-Segafredo s.t.
63 Alex Edmondson Team BikeExchange s.t.
64 Stefano Oldani Lotto Soudal 12:47
65 Yevgeniy Gidich Astana-Premier Tech s.t.
66 Alexander Kristoff UAE Team Emirates s.t.
67 Kristoffer Halvorsen Uno-X s.t.
68 Tim Declercq Deceuninck-Quick Step s.t.
69 Fabian Lienhard Groupama-FDJ s.t.
70 Mads Würtz Schmidt Israel Start-Up Nation s.t.
71 Ryan Gibbons UAE Team Emirates s.t.
72 Piet Allegaert Cofidis s.t.
73 Ludwig De Winter Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
74 Milan Menten Bingoal-WB s.t.
75 Olivier Le Gac Groupama-FDJ s.t.
76 Ben Perry Astana-Premier Tech s.t.
77 Simone Consonni Cofidis s.t.
78 Artyom Zakharov Astana-Premier Tech s.t.
79 Erik Resell Uno-X s.t.
80 Ward Vanhoof Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
81 Jenthe Biermans Israel Start-Up Nation s.t.
82 Alex Colman Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
83 André Carvalho Cofidis s.t.
84 David Dekker Jumbo-Visma s.t.
85 Brent Van Moer Lotto Soudal s.t.
86 Michal Golas INEOS Grenadiers s.t.
87 Maarten Wynants Jumbo-Visma s.t.
88 Jelle Vanendert Bingoal-WB s.t.
89 Leonardo Basso INEOS Grenadiers s.t.
90 Jack Bauer Team BikeExchange s.t.
91 Boy van Poppel Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert s.t.
92 Imanol Erviti Movistar s.t.
93 Quinn Simmons Trek-Segafredo s.t.
94 Frederik Frison Lotto Soudal s.t.
95 Alexys Brunel Groupama-FDJ s.t.
96 Szymon Sajnok Cofidis s.t.
97 Gijs Van Hoecke Ag2r-Citroën s.t.
98 Emil Vinjebo Qhubeka-Assos s.t.
99 Xandro Meurisse Alpecin-Fenix s.t.
100 Otto Vergaerde Alpecin-Fenix s.t.
101 Remy Mertz Bingoal-WB s.t.