Trentin gives chase but finishes just outside top ten at E3-HarelbekeFri 23 Mar 2018
Another windswept and brutally difficult edition of E3-Harelbeke played out with no less excitement than usual today with multiple Grand Tour stage winner Matteo Trentin part of the elite group that went into the final behind a solo leader.
As happens often in the Belgian classics what at first appears to be an innocuous acceleration on a cobbled climb can turn into the winning move and so it unfolded for Niki Terpstra (Quick-step-Floors).
Mitchelton-SCOTT had executed their tactics well with Luke Durbridge and Trentin, at one point in the favourites group together, but Terpstra held on for, what at the time seemed an unlikely victory. Capitalising on what became a disorganised chase with Trentin crossing the line in the group in 11th.
Lots of wind at the start made for a quite stressful opening few kilometres with plenty of attacks springing from the front before an eight rider group settled into a rhythm and began to gain time.
After 60kilometres had been covered the group had over six minutes on the peloton. Forty kilometres later and the bunch had split in two after a huge crash devastated the field and left the first group less than three minutes behind the original eight leaders.
Mitchelton-SCOTT had riders in both halves of the peloton as Quick-Step drove the pace in the front split towards and over the Taaienberg. Durbridge was one of the few that could handle the accelerations until the group split yet again with Nicki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert of Quick-Step off the front and bridging to the last two breakaway riders.
Into the last 50kilometres and Terpstra and Lampaert held 45seconds advantage over the favourites group with Durbridge and now Trentin alongside 30others.
The groups split yet again over the final climbs with Durbridge losing contact and Trentin now part of the first group of chasers behind lone leader Terpstra.
‘Friends, up to a point’ – Chase of Terpstra breaks down with staccato attacks:
Terpstra held 15seconds into the closing ten kilometres and that was when the pursuit started to break down, initially rotating cohesively together the group were gaining on the Dutchman but a series of stop/start attacks allowed him to push his advantage back out past 25seconds with one kilometre to go.
Trentin tried to go repeatedly but was brought back and as Terpstra held on for the win the group finished together in a fractured and tired sprint for second.
Matteo Trentin – 11th:
“It was a bad result for me, I am disappointed about how I went into the final, it was bad timing on my part and I should have positioned myself better. I’d been lucky not go down in the big crash halfway through and from there I rode well, felt good following moves, but the final wasn’t good.”
“We were riding to bring back Terpstra, though at times it felt like some guys were maybe riding for second, so I had a go with six kilometres to go but got shut down pretty quick. Then, I closed Gilbert with a few hundred metres to go, got passed by the bunch straight away and didn’t have the legs to be better in the sprint.”
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“It was a pretty solid day out there and things were going well until the big crash around 100kilometres in, we had a few guys caught up in that. The bunch split heavily, and the race just exploded from there.”
“Luke was in the front half of the split and he rode well until he ran out of legs a little towards the end whereas Matteo just got better and better. He had really good legs and unfortunately made one or two errors at the end which cost him in the final.
“All in all, we can take some positives out of the race, Matteo is in great condition and the signs are good for Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem and we’ll do our best there to get a result.”
1. Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step-Floors) 05:03:34
2. Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step-Floors) +0:20
3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC-Racing-Team) ST
11. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.