22/03/13 - 11:03
Road race - Men
E3 Harelbeke • Stage1

Road race - Men

Follow the E3 Saxo Bank Classic live with Eurosport. The E3 Saxo Bank Classic race starts at 11:03 on 22 March 2013. Find E3 Saxo Bank Classic results, calendar, standings and table. Get all the info on the teams to watch.
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Replays show that Sagan did indeed pip Oss for second place over the finish.


Tom Boonen leads the peloton over the line 2:17 down on today's winner Cancellara, who has shown his credentials ahead of next weekend's Tour of Flanders.


Thomas settles for fourth place, and it looks like he and Sagan are having words in the run-off area.


Daniel Oss attacks from the chasing group and opens up a gap ahead of the final straight. The Italian just holds on to the win ahead of former team-mate Peter Sagan. They crossed the line 1:07 down on Cancellara.


Victory for Fabian Cancellara who crosses the line with his arms aloft and a determined, dogged look on his face.


Cancellara enters the final kilometre of the race with a smile on his face... he begins the first pumping early...


It looks like the chasing quintet has given up: Cancellara has 1:05 now. It is now just a race for second place.


The race looks increasingly in the hands of Cancellara. He passes the five-to-go banner with 58 seconds over the chasing group. Only a puncture or crash will stop him now.


Cancellara's DS Dirk Demol was driving alongside his rider giving him a team chat and protecting him from the crosswind. He's given a warning by the commissaire and drops back accordingly. Every little helps... clearly: the gap is back to 50 seconds.


Stijn Vandenbergh has been caught by the peloton, which is 2:08 down on the lone leader, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack). A reminder of the five chasers: Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Daniel Oss (BMC), Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Sebastien Langeveld (GreenEdge).


It is not in the bag yet for Cancellara: the Sagan chasing group is combining well and the Swiss's lead is down to 40 seconds.


The peloton is now riding at 2:05 from Cancellara so it's safe to say that no one from there will win - which discounts Boonen, who'se group has been caught by the pack. The chasing group is still one minute down as Spartacus powers up the final climb of the day, the Tiegemberg.


The chasing group is prefering to ride on a narrow dirt track to the side of the road rather than tackle the cobbles - and can you blame them? It looks like that Cancellara has this one wrapped up - although punctures and crashes can always happen (remember the Olympic road race?).


This is Fabian Cancellara at his very best. The Swiss is in time trial mode here on the decent road. But now he's on to another cobbled section, covered in a coating of mud. He has one more climb before the finish and around a minute to play with over the five-man chasing group of Sagan, Chavanel, Oss, Thomas and Langeveld.


Cancellara has 57 seconds over Chavanel, Sagan, Oss, Landeveld and Thomas. They are on a stretch of wide road punctuated by speed humps. Stijn Vandenbergh is riding solo in pursuit of the chasing group. The Boonen-Boasson Hagen group is 1:20 down.


Cancellara has played this brilliantly. Despite Sky and Omega having force in numbers, the Swiss powerhouse made his move with expert precision and he is in control of this race now. The two chasing groups are about 40 seconds apart, with the main pack in sight of the Boonen group.


Along with Sagan in the chasing group with Chavanel, Oss, Thomas and Langeveld. Boasson Hagen has been caught by the Boonen group which is a minute or so down on Cancellara, who is 41 seconds ahead of Sagan's group.


The race is now back on a dual carriageway that heads uphill, allowing us to see the large gap Cancellara has made over his rivals. The chasers are beginning to regroup. Geraint Thomas of Sky is there, but no Boonen or Boasson Hagen. The Norwegian appears to be riding on his own between the two Sagan and Boonen chasing groups.


Peter Sagan tries to follow Cancellara but he doesn't have the strength. So we now have one lone leader, Cancellara, with seven riders in pursuit. Boonen is not one of those seven - he is in a smaller chasing group further back on this latest climb, the Kwaremont.


So, we have the 11-man main leading group, which now includes Sagan but not Vandenburgh, who was dropped and is riding in pursuit with the likes of Flecha, Stannard, Van Avermaet and Amador. The groups just begin to merge when Fabian Cancellara puts in a huge attack on the front and opens up a gap!


GreenEdge's Jens Keukeleire crashes ino the cobbles on the Paterberg from the main pack. It's all happening now.


Sagan is back on with the leaders, but there's no Gilbert. Flecha and Amador launch a counter to chase down and are riding between the two groups. Boonen leads the break onto the Paterberg (362m at 12%). They are all riding in single file on a small strip of concrete to the left of the cobbles.


The elite group are onto the Kapelberg (1.2km at 7.1% with a max of 13.7%). Contact has almost been made by the Cannondale boys, so get ready for some counters.


Sep Vanmarcke of Blanco has been dropped from the leading group - that's why it has come down to 11 from 12. Jurgen Roelandts sets the pace for Lotto. The gap back to the Cannondale-led pack is just 16 seconds now.


The boys in electric green from Cannondale are leading the chase for their man Sagan, who for once has looked rather human today. The chasing pack is 26 seconds down on the 11 leaders. Katusha have a man on the front too, and Astana have three there after Maxim Iglinskiy missed the cut. Lots of leg warmers coming off now - Luca Paolini is the latest to jettison his on the side of the road.


Heinrich Haussler leads the chase in the chasing pack, with Devolder, Stannard and Thomas all there. Sagan is now back there after his bike change. Chavanel is there too, but he's doing no work safe in the knowledge that he has three Omega team-mates about 24 seconds up the road.


The eight leaders: Tom Boonen and Zdenek Stybar (Omega), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack), Daniel Oss (BMC), Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), Jurgen Roelandts (Loto Belisol), Mat Hayman and Edvald Boassan Hagen (Sky). Four riders are in pursuit and have almost made contact: Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega), Lars Boom (Blanco), Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge) and Vincent Jerome (Europcar). The main pack is about 30 seconds back. The likes of Van Avermaet, Devolder and Thomas combine on the front of the pack.


Boasson Hagen, the Norwegian national champion, is driving the pace of the leading group as the race hits a rare segment along a normal road with two lanes.


Counter attack from Langerveld, Boom, Vandenbergh and Vincent Jerome. Gilbert tried to go, but he cannot hold the wheel. The four chasers are about 15 seconds behind the leading Boonen group and 15 seconds ahead of the peloton. Peter Sagan needs a bike change and so his task has just been made all the more difficult.


Peter Sagan and Johan Vansummeren both missed that move. Heinrich Haussler and Sylvain Chavanel too. All four are combining to lead the chase. Gilbert, Boom and Turgot are also there.


It's not Chavanel from Omega in the leading group, it's Stybar. So the group is: Stybar, Cancellara, Boonen, Vanmarke, Roelandts, Hayman, Boasson Hagen and Oss.


Jurgen Roelandts followed Boonen's wheel after that initial attack. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega) and Mathew Hayman (Sky) all followed soon after. We now have around eight riders leading the race - full composition coming up.


Team Sky have all come to the front of the pack and are driving a fierce pace that stretches out the peloton. Numerous splits have occurred - and now Tom Boonen attacks! The defending champion puts in a huge dig on the Taaienberg!


An Ag2R rider is joined by a Lotto Belisol rider a few metres ahead of the peloton, but they are not making much of the gap. On the back, Damien Gaudin of Europcar, who was initially involved in that early group, is struggling. The Frenchman has two wins this season - the Paris-Nice prologue and the GP Cholet de Loire on the weekend.


First sighting of huge piles of snow on the side of the road. It's melting, making these narrow roads very slippery and wet. The leaders have now been caught and so the race is back as one with 65km remaining.


The leaders are onto the next cobbled climb, the Stationberg. It's a short 460m climb with an average gradient of 3.2%. They have been caught by the FDJ rider, who is not actually birthday boy Soupe but Mathieu Ladagnous. He has in fact caught and past the three escapees - but it's all futile because the peloton is lurking as the race passes through a drinks station.


A FDJ rider has attacked from the peloton. It's Geoffey Soupe, who celebrates his 25th birthday today. The Frenchman has caught Mol and has the three leaders in his sights.


The Eikenberg is really taking its toll on the pack. Selvaggi leads the chase from the peloton, while up front, Barbe has joined Lund and Teruel. They have 25 seconds on the peloton as they negotiate the downhill, which is slippery because of wet and muddy roads.


The peloton is onto the brutal Eikenberg climb, which is the first fully cobbled ascent of the race. Katusha's Luca Paolini has come to the front, alongside Vacansoleil's Mirko Selvaggi. This is a 1.2km climb with a max gradient of 11%. Teruel and Lund have attacked from the leading group and are now ahead.


That last slowing down in the peloton look to have been caused when Europcar's Yohann Gene slipped in grass on the side of the road and came to a standstill alongside another rider. The result is that the peloton is really strung out now, primarily thanks to Omega's upping of the tempo. Astana's Tluebayev has been caught, so we have just five men up the road with a 57 second lead.


The back of the peloton comes to a standstill at the foot of the climb, stalling Devolver's return to the front. This race is starting to hot up. The escapees are back to 1min ahead. Sky's Bernie Eisel was in the lead before Omega Pharma suddenly dropped the hammer.


This segment of the race is punctuated by numerous 90-degree bends, which has somewhat stalled the peloton's progress. But the gap is still coming down, with the six leaders holding just 50 seconds now over the pack. In fact, the six leaders has now become five, with Astana's Tluebayev dropped on the Boigneberg climb (2.2km at 5.8%).


CRASH: A cluster of riders come down in the peloton on a tight left-hand bend where the concrete merged with a cobbled section. Devolder (RadioShack), Amador (Movistar) and Puccio (Sky) were all involved and need new wheels or bikes.


Philippe Gilbert, the world champion, was just seen rubbing ointment into his groin, so perhaps the Belgian has a problem today? Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra of Omega Pharma needs a bike change and has to fight back onto the back of the peloton.


Mol sets the pace for the six leaders as they get to the top of the fourth climb, the Berg Stene (1.5km at 7.3%). The lead is down to 1:20 as riders begin to get tailed off from the peloton. Omega and Sky still on the front. Stannard and Hayman, both in excellent form, are sticking close together for the Brish team. Heinrich Haussler of IAM is also there too.


The pace is really getting quicker in the pack, with Omega, Sky and GreenEdge still the main protagonists on the front of the pack. These roads in Flanders are very narrow, with a load of dirt and dust along the grass verges. There are deep trenches either side too - they always take a victim or two each year.


Interestingly, hardly any rider in the peloton is wearing leg warmers. The escapees will soon have to shed theirs: the gap is dropping steadily.


The leaders are onto the third climb, La Houppe, which lasts 3.3km and has an average gradient of 3.3% and a maximum of 10%. The gap is down to 1:50.


The peloton rolls through the town of Flobecq with Sky, Omega and GreenEdge all near the front. They trail the leaders by 2:15 now. Incidentally, all six of the leaders are wearing leg warmers, with only Teruel and Van Stijx's ankles/calfs on display.


The last rider in the leading break is Anders Lund, the 28-year-old Dane from Saxo Bank. His only UCI win came back in 2005 in the Circuit des Ardennes. This year he's ridden Paris-Nice and the Tours of Oman and Qatar, finishing outside the top 100 on each GC.


Koen Barbe has to stop on the side of the road after getting his musette stuck in his rear wheel. Lucky he didn't come off his bike there.


Spaniard Eloy Teruel instigated this break of six riders. The 30-year-old joined Movistar this season after a few years out concentrating on track cycling. He competed in the man's omnium or Spain in the London 2012 Olympics. Also in the break, Koen Barbe is a 31-year-old Belgian who rides for Crelan. His only UCI win came in the GP Rudy Dhaenens one-day race in 2005.


It's lunch time for the riders as they pass through the feeding zone. 25-year-old Ruslan Tleubayev from Kazakhstan is one of the six leaders. This is his first year as a full pro at Astana and his best result is a 7th place in stage 4 of the Tour of Langkawi.


The peloton is being controlled by the Omega Pharma team of defending champion Tom Boonen, three minutes behind the six leaders. The wind has got pretty strong out there and the world champion Philippe Gilbert just needed a wheel change for a puncture.


The leaders are approaching the second climb of the day, the 900m-long Oudesteenweg, which has an average gradient of 9.3% and a max of 20%.


Belgian ace Tom Boonen is wearing a special Belgian national champions jersey with a huge number five emblazoned across the back - presumably to remind his rivals, when he attacks, that he's the record five-time winner of E3.


The average speed for the second hour of the race was a relatively slow 35 km/h.


The six leaders now have three minutes over the peloton. So, who are the favourites for the win today? Well, the bookmakers have Milan-San Remo runner up Peter Sagan as the outright favourite, with Fabian Cancellara, third place in San Remo, just behind. Other contenders include Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), Lars Boom (Blanco), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) and Omega pair Boonen and Chavanel.


Stefan van Dijk is the most experienced man in the break. The 37-year-old was Dutch national champion in 2002 and now rides for the Accent Jobs-Wanty Pro Conti outfit, who are here as a wildcard.


After around 70km of racing, the lead is up to 2:20 for our six escapees. One familar face in the break is Wouter Mol, who was part of the break in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen race. The towering Belgian's best career result was victory in the 2010 Tour of Qatar. He hasn't taken a stage or one-day win since 2008, however.


We're onto the cobbled section of Paddestraat as the first rain drops start to come down. This will make it interesting. The six leaders have 1:15 over the peloton.


The six leaders have just under a minute's gap over the peloton, which is being led by the Omega boys of Tom Boonen, the reigning E3 champion. We have about a 35km gap until the next climb. Then, they will come thick and fast.


The six leaders hit the Leberg with a 40-second advantage over the peloton. It's a short 850m climb with an average gradient of 4% and a maximum slope of 15%.


The break has hit the cobblestones of the Hague crossroads with the Leberg climb looming.


No change as the six leaders hold just under half a minute as they approach the first climb of the day, the Leberg.


The six leaders have 30 seconds over the peloton. They are: Eloy Teruel (Movistar), Anders Lund (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil-DCM), Koen Barbe (Crelan) and Stefan van Dijk (Accent Jobs).


ATTACK: Eloy Teruel of Movistar pings off the front. The Spanish track specialist has about 15 seconds over the pack. His move sparks a counter attack by five other riders, who join Teruel out ahead.


The riders have just gone over the first cobble section on Beaucarne Street in Oudenaarde.


The peloton is not issuing any favours and the six-man break is swallowed back up.


ATTACK: Johan Vansummeren (Garmin), Stijn Neyrinck (Topsport), Reto Hollenstein (IAM) and Damien Gaudin (Europcar) ping off the front. They are soon joined by Davide Appollonio (Ag2R) and Gert Joeaar (Cofidis).


Still no more attacks from the peloton. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Merida) punctured but changed his wheel without any ado and is back in the pack.


Belgian national champion Tom Boonen indeed holds the record for the most amount of wins in E3. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step powerhouse has five to his name, with Rik van Looy in second place with four victories all in the 60s.


Previous winners of the race over the past decade: 2003 Steven de Jongh, 2004-2007 Tom Boonen, 2008 Kurt Asle Arvesen, 2009 Filippo Pozzato, 2010-11 Fabian Cancellara, 2012 Tom Boonen.


The first of 15 climbs, the Leberg, comes after 55km of the race today. Expect a break to have formed by then - but sill nothing to report on as the peloton rides along as one.


A few non-starters to report today: Tony Gallopin (RadioShack) did not take to the start, while Bjorn Thurau (Eurosport), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Egidijus Juodvalkis (Crelan-Euphony) did not sign in.


The first attack of the day comes from Lithuanian rider Gediminas Bagdonas of Ag2R-La Mondiale. The 27-year-old is swept back by the peloton.


It's a sunny but cold day in Flanders with temperatures at 6 degrees celsius currently - but because of the wind chill, the riders will feel the cold much more. Luckily for the peloton, it is forecast to be a tailwind for the final 80km of the race.


The 55th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke is under way!


Let's take a look at some of the big names starting today: Boonen & Chavanel (Omega), Gilbert, Phinney & Hushovd (BMC), Cancellara & Devolder (RadioShack), Boasson Hagen, Hayman, Stannard & Thomas (Sky), Iglinskiy (Astana), Boom & Vanmarcke (Blanco), Sagan (Cannondale), Vansummeren (Garmin), Keukeleire (GreenEdge), Degenkolb (Argos), Bennati & Breschel (Saxo), Flecha (Vacansoleil), Haussler (IAM), Turgot (Europcar), Paolini (Katusha). Pozzato (Lampre), Amador, Rojas, Ventoso & Visconti (MOV).


For those not in the know, E3 Harelbeke is a 211km semi-classic race in Belgium that features numerous cobbled sectors and 15 bergs, or climbs. Most of the famous bergs will come into play in next Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen so it's usually a good indicator of who could feature highly in the second Monument of the season. Last year, for instance, Tom Boonen won E3 ahead of his glorious Flanders-Roubaix double.


Good morning and welcome to live coverage of the E3 Harelbeke one-day race, where the big classics riders will look to put down a marker ahead of next weekend's Tour of Flanders.