Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) won the E3 Harelbeke after out foxing the World Champion, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), in a 2-man finish. Ian Stannard (Team Sky) brought a select group home to claim the final podium placing.
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka it would be our first Belgian spring classic of the year. Jay Thomson quickly found his rhythm on the small, rough and technical Belgian roads as he rode across to the early break of the day. Our South African strongman was with 7 other riders out front as they built up a lead of just over 5 minutes.
Etixx-Quickstep was the team in control of the peloton and as expected, all was going calmly until the race reached the Taaienberg with 70km to go. The two Belgian teams of Etixx-Quickstep and Lotto-Soudal really ramped up the pace on the Taaienberg which blew the peloton to pieces and all but nullified the advantage of Thomson’s breakaway group. It was only a select group of around 15 riders that made it over the top and these would be the riders who would decide the race.
When the group of favourites caught the break, Thomson was our sole representative in the leading group. Etixx-Quickstep were setting a relentless pace on the front, putting pressure on the other riders in the break and ensuring no smaller groups made it back to the front of the race. After his efforts in the early break, Thomson eventually lost contact with the leaders.
Coming into the finish it was a tactical match up and Sagan and Kwiatkowski were able to get one over on the Etixx team as they attacked with 30km to go. The strong duo was not going to be caught as they combined well to hold onto a 30 second lead right to the finish.
Jay Thomson – Rider
It was good to be in the break. It wasn’t so easy as I punctured on the first cobble section and only got back on the 2nd section. The break was at 30 seconds and I rode across on the big road. The break worked well together but the race behind, with all the big guys, caught us at the wrong moment. I am a little disappointed to not get more out of today but I’m super happy with the way the legs felt.