A strong sixth-place showing from Nils Politt came on Friday at the 62nd E3 BinckBank Classic one day race in Harelbeke, with the race providing the perfect setting for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN to test both legs and tactics for the Belgian classics.
Nils Politt: “It was a quite nice race. My legs were good right from the beginning. I had great support from the team and I think the team did a really good job. Marco went early, Slava went early, and in the end, I was always in a good position during the key points.”
Early tactics included sending first Marco Haller and then Slava Kuznetsov to make the race hard. Near 60k to go, it was time for Politt to attack with Jasha Sütterlin of Movistar. Included in the move were Bob Jungels and Hirshi, all strong time trial riders who showed promise of making it to the end. “I was thinking it was a good time to go,” said Politt. “I got dropped on the Karnemelkbeekstraat by Bob Jungels but I’m happy with sixth place. This is the best placings I’ve earned in the classics up until now and it’s a nice feeling. In the training coming up to this race, I was feeling that my legs were good. I wanted to try something and I did it and it was a great move.”
Capturing the win was Zdeněk Štybar of Deceuninck - Quick Step on the 204k course. Second and third places went to Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Greg Van Avermaet of CCC Team, all on the same time of 4:46:05 (42.78km/h). Also showing good results on the day were team riders Marco Haller in 19th place, ahead of fast sprinters Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb, and Reto Hollenstein in 30th place.
Sports director Dirk Demol added: “I am happy with our result today. We’ve been working toward this important period of racing, especially with Nils, and trying to have him give his maximum and be in good shape here. We had good tactics today. When Marco went I was hoping he would have some riders with him. Then when Slava went it was the same thing. Later then it was Nils. I think we need to do more of this, with anticipating what’s to come in the race. When we wait for the big guns to come, we have to have a super day to be there. But once you’re in the front and can survive, it can be an ending like today with a strong sixth place.”
Kuznetsov: “I would say today the team looked so good. First Marco tried to go away and then me. Then in the right moment Nils attacked to get some time. It worked – he took a good top ten place. A good result for us. And just in time. We all tried today and Nils was strong and that’s important in Belgian races.”
Sunday brings the 81st Gent Wevelgem at 251.5k.