Geraint Thomas became the first Briton to win Belgian cobbled Classic E3 Harelbeke on Friday 27th March, with a stunning solo win. Forcing the race up the fearsome Oude Kwarement climb – just as he did last year – the Team Sky Welshman slipped clear at 42km to go with Zdeněk Štybar and Peter Sagan. The trio worked well together, opening up a lead of one minute with 10km left. Clearly mindful that Sagan had beaten him in the sprint for the line last year, Thomas attacked 4.3km from the line, leaving Štybar to chase behind in vain, without help from the fast-fading Sagan, and he pulled away to win by 25 seconds.
“I think this is the biggest win for me,” he said afterwards. “You look at the past winners here, there are some super strong guys and this is a big race… I can’t believe it.” Thomas’s lone glory came after great teamwork from his Team Sky colleagues riding hard on the front to catch the early breakaway and keeping him away from the crashes, which took out Fabian Cancellara and Sebastian Langeveld amongst others. The rest was a demonstration of the super form that Team Sky’s man-for-all-seasons has been recently showing.
The weather was surprisingly good for a spring race in Belgium and it was clear but cold on the start line. G was wearing his Merino Mesh Base Layer, a favourite of his; the team issue short sleeve road race aerosuit; and a long sleeve team issue midweight jersey, until the sun had burned off the early morning chill. Ian Stannard was also seen wearing a skinsuit, showing a growing trend for the Team Sky riders to get as aero as possible in the one-day races too. Here is the full list of how the race was worn:
- Aerosuit (team issue, similar to Pro Team Aerosuit)
- LS team issue midweight jersey (for first part of the race)
- Merino Mesh Baselayer
- Pro Team Socks (riders are given a choice of white or black)
- Pro Team Mitts
- Baseball Cap (for podium and post-race interviews)