Van der Poel crushes his rivals with multiple attacks at E3 Saxo Classic

World champion Mathieu van der Poel won a war of attrition with arch-rival Wout van Aert on Friday to claim the first of cycling's cobbled classics, at the E3 Saxo Classic

Van der Poel crushes his rivals with multiple attacks at E3 Saxo Bank Classic

World champion Mathieu van der Poel took victory in the E3 Saxo Classic in only his second race of the year 

After a 3rd and 2nd place in this race, Mathieu van der Poel managed to win E3 with a big show of force and huge gaps on his rivals. With 3 guys in the top 10, Lidl-Trek was stronger today than Visma-Lease a Bike. 

Van der Poel showed he was the strongest with multiple attacks from around 80km to go that had his rivals on the back foot, continuously having to chase him down.

Van der Poel first opened a signigicant gap while van Aert was on the floor after a fall, but his 40km solo run for the line was so powerful, he rode away with no one being able to close the gap.

The 29-year-old Dutch rider crossed the line at Harelbeke stood up on his pedals with a military salute 1min 31sec ahead of second placed Jasper Stuyven whose fellow Belgian Van Aert was third, a second behind after chasing him solo but unable to close the gap.

The 207km race over 17 hills is the first of a series of classics known to cycling fans as 'holy week' leading up to next Sunday's Tour of Flanders, run over many of the same roads.

"I even kept a bit back for Sunday," Van der Poel said of the upcoming Gent Wevelgem race in two days. "This is my first win here so I'm proud, but I haven't won Wevelgem either," he said throwing down the gauntlet.

Van der Poel had attacked several times but was reeled in each time by a strained looking Van Aert before the key moment.

Showers early in the race made the cobbles slippery, and Van Aert fell at the foot of the Paterberg hill, slipping on an uphill muddy cobble section.

Van der Poel was ruthless and set off with blistering pace on his solo bid. While Van Aert gamely went in hot pursuit with a bloody elbow Van der Poel raced on past fan-packed roadsides in a relentless and unflinching manner riding at around 46 kph solo into a slight headwind.

Van der Poel's win clearly has establishes himself as the man to beat in the big one-day classics and monuments.

Van Aert was far from the only rider to fall on the narrow Flanders lanes as Bora's Emil Herzog was sent flying head first into a ditch, several riders inclusing Luke Rowe and Danny van Poppel had to abandon the race,

The E3 was first staged in 1958 and named after one of the major highways which runs through the Flanders region.

Van Aert won the race in 2022 and 2023 and would have dearly loved to have completed a straight hattrick.

HIGHLIGHTS: 2024 E3 Saxo Classic

2024 E3 Saxo Classic Top 10

1  VAN DER POEL Mathieu Alpecin - Deceuninck 4:39:39
2  STUYVEN Jasper Lidl - Trek 1:31
3  VAN AERT Wout Team Visma | Lease a Bike 1:34
4  WELLENS Tim UAE Team Emirates 1:48
5  JORGENSON Matteo Team Visma | Lease a Bike 1:50
6  NARVÁEZ Jhonatan INEOS Grenadiers 1:52
7  POLITT Nils UAE Team Emirates 2:48
8  SKUJINŠ Toms Lidl - Trek 2:48
9  ALBANESE Vincenzo Arkéa - B&B Hotels 2:48
10  KIRSCH Alex Lidl - Trek 2:48

Tag: vanderpoel
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