E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke awarded UCI WorldTour status
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke awarded UCI WorldTour status

by Shane Stokes at 5:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, E3-Prijs
 
Big boost for pre-Flanders event

Fabian CancellaraReferring to the promotion as an indication that it is determined to reinforce European cycling while top-level events are introduced elsewhere in the world, the UCI has announced that the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen- Harelbeke will become a WorldTour event.

The race has been awarded an initial four year licence, running from next season until 2015. The event was previously ranked 1.HC on the UCI’s calendar, and held on March 26th this year. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) triumphed for the second year in a row, winning the race by a minute.

The UCI said that the promotion was done in order to balance the introduction of top-level events outside Europe. “By integrating this race on the UCI WorldTour calendar, the UCI confirms its determination to ensure the durability of European cycling – in parallel with its commitment to the globalisation of cycling, which takes a step forward this season with the first edition of the Tour of Beijing – within the global development of the sport,” it said in a statement.

The promotion of the race by the UCI’s Licence Commission will see a slight change in the timing of the event. It will continue to be held before Gent-Wevelgem, but will move from Saturday to Friday, thus giving a full day’s gap between the two races.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said that the decision is partly due to the high level of races in the area. “The granting of this licence recognises the importance of this race in a region that has a strong cycling tradition,” he stated. “The Flanders area has a remarkable heritage and remains a landmark for cyclists around the world.”

The first edition of the race was held in 1958 and was won by the Belgian Armand Desmet. The past winners include many of the great Classics riders in the sport, including Rik Van Looy, Roger de Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Jan Raas, Phil Anderson, Eric Vanderaerden, Johan Museeuw, Peter Van Petegem and Tom Boonen. Van Looy and Boonen have won the most editions, taking four each.

The unusual name was taken from the E3 motorway, built in the sixties but now called the A14. The race features both cobbles and climbs and is seen as perfect preparation for the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

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