The list of E3 winners includes some great names from the past: Herman van Springel, Eddie Planckaert, Jan Raas, Johan Museeuw, Mario Cipollini : it is also distinguished by the giants of the present day: Cancellara, Boonen and Sagan.
As another preparation race for the Tour of Flanders, it allows the riders to reacquaint itself with the hellingen which are situated in the triangular swathe of Flanders, where Ghent sits on the tip of the triangle, with Lille at the western corner and Brussels (loosely) to the eastern edge.
Within this seemingly flat area, there are many steep cobbled climbs on which the powerhouses of the peloton will seek to break their opponents with searing injections of pace.
If the sprinters can hang on during these onslaughts, they will have a chance as the 20 kms run in to the finish is flat. It sometimes happens this way. However, the big engines will do all they can to dislodge the fast men before the denouement.
It’s reminiscent of the Sunday morning Muswell Hill Peloton rides, which often end in a sprint on Friern Barnet Lane. The list of victors include those renowned turbo-diesels, The Wattmeister and The Lion King. However, Slayer, the canny lop-sided sprinter who eats cobbles for breakfast, is angling for his first win on this hallowed stretch of road. Maybe he will be inspired by today’s E3.