Mathieu van der Poel concluded on Friday after the E3 Saxo Bank Classic that his third place was the highest possible. Deceunick-Quick-Step was too strong in the Flemish semi-classic and took the victory with Kasper Asgreen.
“Deceunick-Quick-Step was with too many riders in front, they handled that very cleverly”, said 26-year-old Van der Poel in Harelbeke. “There wasn’t much to do against this block today.”
Deceunick-Quick-Step dominated the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and was continuously at the forefront of the race with several pawns. In the decisive leading group of seven were three riders of the Belgian formation (Asgreen, Florian Sénéchal and Zdenek Stybar), as a result of which Van der Poel was caught when Asgreen attacked 5 kilometers from the finish.
“Of course they looked at me, but I can’t get everything back”, said the Dutch champion, who made his debut in the E3 Classic. “As everyone had warned me in advance, it was a very difficult race, but a beautiful one. This is race, it is the merit of Deceuninck-Quick-Step to be in the front with so many men and to take control of the race.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step celebrates the victory of Kasper Asgreen (second from the left).
Van der Poel and Van Aert received little support
Van der Poel had an ally with his eternal rival Wout van Aert in the fight against Deceuninck-Quick-Step, but the Belgian had to pass when Van der Poel accelerated on the Tiegemberg at 20 kilometers from the finish.
“Wout and I had to do a lot of work, because we received very little support,” said the Alpecin-Fenix leader. “Then you know that everyone who has been in your wheel arrives relatively rested at the crucial points. And we no longer had the acceleration to make the difference.”
Van der Poel complimented winner Asgreen for a strong course. The Danish champion jumped away for the first time at 70 kilometers from the line, was taken back by the group with Van der Poel after a solo of about 50 kilometers and then placed the decisive attack with 5 kilometers to go.
“I did expect Asgreen to go again in the absolute final, so that he would bring his teammates into a seat”, said Van der Poel. “But I didn’t expect he would be strong yet and keep it to the finish line. The best has won.”
Van der Poel will be driving Dwars door Vlaanderen next Wednesday, followed by the Tour of Flanders next week. The Dutchman won that monument last season. “I think this race will help me to be good at the Tour, I’m going to work towards that now.”
Source site www.nu.nl