Flemish Cycling Week begins with Mitchelton-SCOTT looking to go one better at E3-HarelbekeWed 21 Mar 2018
The Northern European cobbled classics are finally here and so begin’s one of the most exciting months of the season, first up for Mitchelton-SCOTT is E3-Harelbeke on Friday with the Australian outfit looking to improve on last year’s fourth place and make the podium.
A strong and versatile team is set to back up former Australian national champion Luke Durbridge and multiple grand Tour stage winner classics specialist Matteo Trentin.
Mitchelton-SCOTT go into the race aiming high and strong support comes from 2016 Paris-Roubaix champion Mathew Hayman, compatriot Michael Hepburn and Slovenian champion Luka Mezgec.
Newly crowned Madison world champion Roger Kluge completes the line-up alongside 24-year-old Australian national road champion Alex Edmondson.
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 26)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 24)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 39)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26)
Roger Kluge (DE, 32)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 29)
Matteo Trentin (ITA, 28)
2018 marks the 61st edition of the race known as ‘little Flanders’ first held in 1958 and forming part of the prestigious series of Belgian cobbled classics the one-day race traditionally takes place on the last Friday of March and marks the start of Flemish Cycling Week.
The route is a hilly one, covering 206kilometres over 15climbs including the famous Taaienberg, Kruisberg, Paterberg and Oude Kawaremont.
In 2017 Durbridge achieved the team’s best ever result, finishing fourth after leading the chase some 40seconds behind a trio of leaders that went on to contest the victory.
Aiming high with Durbridge and Trentin and to be in the mix when the important attacks take place.
Improve on 2017 and finish on the podium.
“Last year was quite a good year for me, I was fourth and I am looking forward to returning, but I am also looking forward to stepping up at all of these races in Belgium and northern France. I think we have a really strong classics squad now with Matteo and Jack Bauer coming in, they have definitely strengthened our roster.”
“Going into E3-Harelbeke we have good options for different scenarios, but for myself I would have to go early, that’s my style and as we have seen in these races over the last couple of years the winning move has tended to come from quite a bit further out than it has in the past.
“I’ve done a solid recon of this year’s course and it hasn’t changed that much since last year. I hope I can improve on last year’s result and I am certainly looking forward to the challenge.
“As a team we’ve continued to knock on the door at these races since Mat Hayman’s win in Roubaix in 2016 and I really think our team is one of most solid up here and It would be great if we can confirm that with either a win or a few podiums over the classics period."
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“After running fourth in 2017 we know that this is a race that suits Luke’s characteristics and also one that he can do well in. We have a really strong classics squad this year and Luke is motivated to get a result on Friday and try to improve on last year.”
“Both our leaders are in good shape at the moment and with Luke and Matteo we have two really strong options for how the race may play out and we will be looking to be in the right place when the key moves go.
“There’s a good mix of youth and experience within the team and some strong support there. After Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico all the guys have some solid racing in their legs and we want to carry the momentum of our recent results into the Flemish classics.”
E3-Harelbeke, 206kilometres, 23rd March 2018.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.