Wout van Aert has won the dress rehearsal for the Tour of Flanders.
Nine days before the most important Belgian one-day classic, the professional cyclist from Belgium prevailed at the E3 Prize in Harelbeke ahead of Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar. The so-called autobahn race, named after a former expressway, is considered the most important form test for the round, as it largely follows the same route. At 204 kilometers, however, the E3 price is almost 70 kilometers shorter.
In defending champion van Aert, cross world champion van der Poel and two-time Tour winner Pogacar, the trio determined the race, which is also expected on Sunday in a week ahead.
In the gripping three-way battle, van der Poel and Pogacar repeatedly decimated the field with attacks on the 17 poisonous climbs. The final selection from the rest of the field followed at the Oude Kwaremont with about 38km to go as Pogacar pushed the pace. The trio worked together up to the last kilometer before Van Aert was the fastest in the sprint.