The E3: Catch Me If You Can?

The Emperor: 
Rik Van Looy won three,

The wonderfully named classic, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke begins tomorrow.

Now, upgraded to World Tour status it's moved to Friday, giving a day rest before the big Gent-Wevelgem, on Sunday.

Why the codename ...E3?

It's name from the E3 motorway built in the mid-sixties. And, it's far from flat with 13 hills, many with pavé and cobblestone sections just to make sure it's pure Flanders. Oh and don't forget the crosswinds, cool temps and sometimes rain that makes it more tantalizingly Flemish.

fine like wine, 2011 E3

Defending two-time champ, Fabian 'Catch Me If You Can' Cancellara will be the favorite coming off his win in the Strade Bianche and near win in Milan SanRemo. In last year's E3 he came back from mechanicals and literally rode off the backs of all the favorites to win an intimidating victory (remember his bike change - formula 1 style).

Also, the rest of the field looks formidable as most of the teams are bringing plenty of heavy artillery.

A long list of riders are ready and chopping at the bit; Tom Boonen (looking for his fourth win), Svein Tuft, Sebastian Langeveld, Phillippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Sep Vanmarcke, Heinrich Haussler, Dominque Rollin, Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, Eddy Boasson Hagen, Fillippo Pozzato, Oscar Gatto and Sylvain Chavanel (rode a tremendous Dwars).

Of course, to win one has to be on his 'A' game, have an exceptional team and plenty luck. Can Spartacus slay a third victory?

My pick: Peter The Terminator Sagan.
Photo: Sirotti