Asgreen goes again after being caught to win E3 Classic

Danish champion Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won the E3 Saxo Bank Classic with a combination of immense strength and team tactics, soloing into the finish 32 seconds ahead of teammate Florian Sénéchal with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in third.

64th E3 Saxo Bank Classic 2021

Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck - Quick-Step wins the E3 Saxo Bank Classic Source: Getty

Kasper Asgreen played off an impressive tactical race plan from his Deceuninck-Quickstep team, attacking in the finale to win the race after previously having spent 54 kilometres of the front of the peloton by himself.

Asgreen won the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, saluting by just over half a minute ahead of an elite chasing group, led home by his teammate Sénéchal to complete an impressive 1-2 for Deceuninck-QuickStep.

The 26-year-old was the main aggressor for the Belgian squad, attacking first on the Taaienberg and then again with 66.7km to go on the Boigneberg before managing to break free with the other favourites unwilling to commit from such a long way out.


His team were busy behind marking out a succession of attacks and bridging attempts until Asgreen was finally caught with 12.3 kilometres to go by a group of cobbled classics stars. Van der Poel, Greg van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen (both AG2R Citroën) and Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) in addition to defending champion Zdenek Stybar and Sénéchal. Asgreen received a pat on the back for a job done well from Sénéchal and it appeared that he would just recuperate and perhaps work for his teammates in the finale.

With Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) looming behind after having lost contact on the Tiegemberg, the seven leaders cooperated until the van Aert was no longer a threat and then, with 4.8km to go, Asgreen attacked from the rear of the group.

It didn't appear that Asgreen was getting a big gap immediately but as the attacks from behind were marked out, cooperation faltered and the Danish champion found himself growing his lead until eventually he came across the line, saluting a famous win with daylight behind.

A tired van der Poel sat up as he was passed by Sénéchal in the sprint for second, but hung on for a podium spot.

"I knew after the effort I did today that I wasn't going to have any chance in the last kilometre, so I had to get away and arrive alone if I wanted to win the race. It was all or nothing at that point," Asgreen said.

"I tried to use the traffic island to put some distance between them and myself so I could get a gap before they could react. I don't know if that made the difference. I think everyone had a hard day and everyone was on the limit."

The Danish national champion claimed the biggest race win of his career, the 26-year-old having previously won a stage of the Tour of California and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne as a Pro level race. He has built a reputation as a proper hard man for the classics, clearly well-deserved from his performance here.

"I was really motivated to go out and create a hard race - that's where I have my biggest strength," said Asgreen. "I was not afraid to open up the race early. To go solo for that long was not the plan but in the end when you're off the front you just have to put your head down and make the most of it.

"We had an amazing team here. Everyone was so strong. I could hear them cheering for me behind and I could hear how well they were bluffing the other guys. We always had someone there. It was really perfect. A huge thanks to the guys. It's really amazing teamwork. It would not be possible to do a ride like this without my teammates, that's for sure."

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4 min read
Published 27 March 2021 at 10:12am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS