The E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021 is once again on the cycling calendar on the last Friday of March. We hear you thinking, the E3 Saxo Bank? Another name change? Forgive us if we still speak of the E3 Harelbeke, but on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 an official press release announced the name change from the E3 Binck Bank Classic to the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. Not only a new name, also a completely new course. But more on that below.
The E3 Harelbeke, as the course is still called among connoisseurs and was also called until 2018, was first ridden in 1958, when the E3 Prijs was a prey to Armand Desmet. The course, which is named after the highway E3 (nowadays A14-E17), located between Harelbeke and Antwerp.
The race was called E3 Prijs until the edition number 53 in 2010, won by the Swiss Fabian Cancellara, and continued as E3 Harelbeke from 2011 onwards. In the edition of 2012 Tom Boonen managed to take the record from Rik van Looy and thus became the record holder with five victories. Tom Boonen, with his five victories, is still “Mister E3” until 2020.
In the same year 2012, E3 Harelbeke became an official UCI WorldTour race and since then there has never been a favorite missing at the start in Harelbeke.
When is E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021?
The E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021 will be held on Friday, March 26, 2021 and will also be, as in past years, the unofficial preparation race for the Tour of Flanders, which will start exactly nine days later. When the 2021 E3 Saxo Bank Classic is held on the last Friday of March, the race will be back home after a small outing with two cycling classics in Italy. Indeed, after the Opening Weekend with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2021 and Kuurne Brussel Kuurne 2021, we briefly swap the Flemish hills and cobblestones for the clean (northern) Italian land, with the Strade Bianche 2021 and Milan San Remo 2021 on Saturday, March 6 and Saturday, March 20, 2021, respectively.
Preview E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021
With the E3 Harelbeke on Friday March 26, 2021 the Flemish Cycling Week starts. Two days after the E3 Saxo Bank Classic Ghent-Wevelgem is on the program and for several years it has been a regular feature that the following Wednesday Dwars door Vlaanderen is held, until the absolute highlight on the first Sunday of 2021: the Tour of Flanders – the most nicest cobble classic there is (de mooiste voorjaarsklassieker!).
Looking at the main favorites for the E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021 also means looking at the participants of the Tour of Flanders 2021. Big names like Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel will also be top favorites in Harelbeke. But guys like Søren Kragh Andersen, defending champion Zdeněk Štybar and veteran Greg van Avermaet will also be eager to start.
The 2020 edition was scrapped due to the coronavirus, so winner of E3 Harelbeke 2019 Zdeněk Štybar is still defending title. Štybar managed to win the sprint in a front group of five that included Wout van Aert and Greg van Avermaert.
Course E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021
A new name, a new race course. The E3 2021 race route has undergone quite a few changes compared to the last edition in 2019. Kattenberg, La Houppe, Kanarieberg, Oude Kruisberg, Knokteberg, Hotond, Kortekeer, Taaienberg, Berg Ter Stene, Boigneberg, Eikenberg, Stationberg, Kapelberg, Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat and Tiegemberg. The Oude Kruisberg and the Eikenberg are back in the E3 Harelbeke 2021 parcours.
Karnemelkbeekstraat forever “the E3 Col”.
The Karnemelkbeekstraat. Or “that damned Karnemelkheuvel,” as we heard a bonkers winegum-eating Dutch cyclo-rider curse a few years back as he parked on the vicious 18% section on the 1,530-meter slope with an average gradient of 4.3%. The same Tour of Flanders cyclo riders will (re)know Karnemelkbeekstraat primarily as a rest stop where Flemish blonde ladies adorned in Red Bull wings outfit offer exhausted amateur riders a goesting boost. Say the Karnemelkbeekstraat, then you say the E3 Harelbeke. Yes, we know. We should say the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. We’ll have to get used to it. Back to the Karnemelkbeekstraat. Indeed, in the spring of 2019, the col was officially titled “E3 Col”, as the hill on the road exactly on the border of Vlaandere and Wallonia was often the showpiece of the E3 Harelbeke. Who will shake the tree on the Rue du Lait Battu in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021?
Favorites E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021
The day before the E3 Saxo Bank Classic we present you here an extensive overview of the favorites of the E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021. Also, springclassics.be will again provide a star distribution, where the three top favorites will be tipped. As in 2020, we will also once again highlight a joker. The joker will be a dark horse rather than top favorite, but in our eyes a golden tip for your Scorito pool or spring classics pronostic with your group of friends or neighborhood pub.
E3 Saxo Bank Classic last year
So the 2020 edition was scrapped due to the coronavirus.
Last ten winners E3 Saxo Bank Classic
2019: Zdeněk Štybar
2018: Niki Terpstra
2017: Greg Van Avermaet
2016: Michał Kwiatkowski
2015: Geraint Thomas
2014: Peter Sagan
2013: Fabian Cancellara
2012: Tom Boonen
2011: Fabian Cancellara
2010: Fabian Cancellara