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Greatest Spring Classics Races – E3 Harelbeke

Fabio Felline & John Degekolb on the Oude Kwaremont - E3 Harelbeke 2017 Mathew Mitchell
Fabio Felline & John Degenkolb on the Oude Kwaremont

Race Information & History

Race Type: Hilly classic with cobbles

The first E3 BinckBank Classic was first run in 1958 and would head from Harelbeke to Antwerp and back. From the early 1960s it was called the E3-Prijs Vlaanderen. Originally named after a local motorway, the road has since been renamed the E17 but the race has name has stuck. From 2012, it changed to E3 Harelbeke before the current sponsorship deal kicked
in for 2019. The E3 BinckBank Classic is another race considered a
bellwether for form ahead of the main event of the Tour of Flanders which currently takes place just over a week afterwards. A similar set of final climbs including the Paterberg and the Oude Kwaremont are a good test of legs before a longer fairly flat section back to Harelbeke where often a small group arrives together to sprint.

The tie-in to the Tour of Flanders is strong. 15 riders have won both the
E3 BinckBank Classic and De Ronde. All except 1 won E3 first, so the race
can be used to pick potential Flanders winners. In fact, 7 times in the last 20 years the winner of E3 has subsequently won the Tour of Flanders in the same year. The E3 Binckbank Classic is also notorious for its promotional posters. 2 of which have had to be withdrawn in recent years after complaints and others have been controversial too.

Niki Terpstra

Greatest Race


This race saw a changing of the guard. The Fabian Cancellara/Tom Boonen days of domination were over as Peter Sagan won the 2nd Spring Classic of his career.

Geraint Thomas attacked on the Oude Kwaremont catching out Sagan who had to work hard to close the gap. Sagan himself attacked on the new Karnemelkbeekstraat, with only Thomas, Terpstra and Vandenbergh able to follow, 15 seconds ahead of the pack.

The group worked well and got the gap up to 1 minute by the Tiegemberg. In the final 3km Vandenbergh attacked twice to no avail. Peter Sagan won the sprint easily and Terpstra piped Thomas on the line for 2nd place.

Oude Kwaremont

Iconic Section

The Oude Kwaremont is a long climb into the village of Kwaremont which then flattens out into a drag with a small final kick up to the main road. The Oude Kwaremont is long at an average of 4%.

The positioning in races of the Oude Kwaremont sees riders use it as a launchpad to attack as the narrowness helps funnel riders. It’s also famously where Peter Sagan crashed when his handlebars caught a fan’s jacket in 2017.