March 26, 2021 – The 203km E3 Saxo Bank Classic started and finished in Harelbeke with the riders taking on 17 climbs and plenty of cobblestone sections through the Flemish Ardennes.
An early breakaway formed, including Marco Haller, Jonathan Milan and ten other riders. The break built a gap of nearly three minutes after making their move 23km in on the first climb of the day, while the peloton didn’t allow the gap to stretch. Heavy crosswinds and efforts on the front of the peloton caused splits, which saw a group of the favourites closing the gap to the breakaway.
The chasing group of favourites eventually caught the breakaway with 70km to go and formed a group of 19 riders. The group was then further split after a few attacks, and ultimately Haller finished 10th. A final attack from Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) 4km from the finish proved to be the decisive move that gave him the win.
Marco Haller was happy with his performance. “We were lucky to finish with a top ten. I made the early break, but in the end, it was quite a good place to be. When the first big splits were made at the back, the favourites were running up to me, and I was lucky to catch another move to survive the key sections. Unfortunately, on the last obstacle of the day, I missed the decisive move, but to come away with a top ten is nice. Obviously, you always dream for more, but there are still a few races to come, so we hope to keep that momentum.”
Sports Director Rolf Aldag gave his thoughts on the day ” I think we showed really good character. We wanted to be in the breakaway, and we ended up with two guys. It was a nice learning experience for Jonathan, and Marco showed his character being in the first breakaway of the day and being the only one hanging on until it all came back together. Unfortunately, the last climb was 100m too long to fight for the victory. But overall, 10th is an excellent result for him, and we are more than happy about that. On the other hand, we still had a little bit of bad luck with Sonny and Dylan having mechanicals, which happens at these races.”
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)