The first cobbled Classic of the season – E3 Harelbeke – rolls out on Friday (March 28) as Fabian Cancellara bids to secure his fourth victory in five years.
Spartacus soloed to success in 2013, to reclaim his title from Tom Boonen, and the Trek Factory Racing man will go wheel-to-wheel with Boonen and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) again as Belgium’s pavè takes centre-stage.
With the cobbled ascent of Oude Kwaremont among the 17 climbs awaiting, all three will be desperate to prove their form ahead of the Tour of Flanders too, having missed out in the season’s first Monument.
Boonen’s withdrawal, for family reasons, and Cancellara and Sagan missing out in the sprint means all three will be keen to kick-start their Classics campaigns in Harelbeke.
But it is by no means a three-man race – even if Spartacus and Tornando Tom have shared eight wins in the last ten editions of the E3 Harelbeke.
Read on for our in-depth look at the course, and the riders in contention.