2022 E3 Preview

Harelbeke > Harelbeke 204.7km

One of the best races of the season. It might have a shit name, but this is a golden race. Calling it a mini-Flanders does it a disservice, this is a race that is real test of power and strength. We’ve seen QuickStep dominate the last three editions, but is the balance of power shifting in the classics?


A beautiful day with lots of sunshine and temperatures hitting 18 degrees. The wind will reach around 18km/h, so it shouldn’t split the race, but you just never know in this part of the world.

Key Points

For me, the race starts at the Taaienberg. This year there will be a headwind once over the top, making it harder to create a split. Last year we had barriers to force the riders onto the cobbles, we’ll have to see if the organisers decide to keep them. Weirdly, no barriers make it more selective, in my opinion.

The only race where we do the Paterberg before the Oude Kwaremont. You must be at the front for the climb, it’s one of the most important points in the whole race. If you get stuck behind a rider who’s struggling, it could be game over.

The Oude Kwaremont, my darling! So much harder than the numbers suggest, and a strong cross/tailwind once they get through the village.


Are Jumbo-Visma going to do a QuickStep? They have Affini, Van Hooydonck, Van Der Sande and Teunissen to do most of the work in the earlier stages. This leaves Benoot, Laporte and Van Aert for the closing stages. Having multiple options is how QuickStep have won this race in recent years, it’s the way to go and exactly why Jumbo-Visma strengthened their classics squad.

Last year, we saw Van Aert doing enormous pulls up the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont, it’s no wonder he was dropped on the Tiegemberg. This will not happen this year! If you think back to the opening weekend, they nailed it in Omloop, with Van Aert taking a stunning win. Okay, he didn’t win Milano-Sanremo, but that is a tough race to get right. They start as the team everyone will look at and having three amazing options puts them in the strongest position. 

Looking to stop them will be QuickStep, even though they’re currently experiencing a tough time. A combination of illness, injury and poor form has left them weaker than we’re used to seeing. Asgreen will likely be their shining light, but they won’t dominate the front group like in previous years. The other team who could play a big role in the race is Trek-Segafredo, with Stuyven and Pedersen as strong options for this race. Aside from those three teams, the rest will be looking to survive.


Jumbo-Visma – they have three of the strongest ten riders in the race, without a shadow of a doubt. Van Aert is flying just now, he covered Pogačar’s attacks well in Milano-Sanremo. If Pedersen isn’t in the front group, he’ll have the fastest sprint. Laporte is looking like the signing of the season, he’s amazing just now. He’s a rider who always seems to do well in this part of the world, and now he’s got a team to match. Benoot started the year in brilliant form, but he suffered a deep cut in his knee in the huge crash over in Strade Bianche. He’s now fully recovered and hoping that the form is still there, being fresher than his rivals could work in his favour. Beating these three will be very difficult.

Kasper Asgreen – the strongest QuickStep option, he impressed in Strade Bianche. He took it easy in Tirreno, trying to get kilometres in the legs but crucially saving as much energy as he could for the next month. For the first time in his professional career, he’ll likely start to feel how everyone else does in this race, frustrated at being isolated. The team will hope Sénéchal can go deep into the race, he climbed well in Sanremo, but I’m not sure anyone else has the current shape to make the front group. It’s not going to be easy for them to win.

Trek – Segafredo – can Pedersen survive? He’s certainly got the form; he’s climbing better than ever before. Stuyven looked good in De Panne, he seems to have recovered from his recent illness. With the likes of Theuns and Simmons to support, they should be one of the strongest teams in the race. Being the fastest sprinter, Pedersen will hope he’s not the only Trek rider in the front group. If he is, the others will lean on him and expect him to work harder than everyone else.

Stefan Küng – he’s enjoying a strong start to the season, he’s another who’s climbing very well. He needs patience in this race, don’t go wasting bullets early in the race. 

Victor Campenaerts – see above.

Michael Valgren – his start to 2022 was interrupted by illness, but he’s now close to his best. When on form, Michael is one of the best classics riders in the world. His team isn’t strong, which will make winning very difficult, but he should be making the front group.

Matej Mohorič – not enough descending for him and his dropper post! Form is clearly good, but this race doesn’t suit him as well as Sanremo.

Prediction Time

Jumbo-Visma are going to smash this race to pieces, but which one of the boys will I choose? Let’s go for Christophe Laporte.