E3 Saxo Classic: What Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel, Matej Mohorič said after De Ronde preview

Here's what the protagonists said after Wout van Aert sprinted for the spoils in Harelbeke's 'mini Tour of Flanders.'

Photo: Getty Images

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Here’s what some of the biggest stars said after Wout van Aert surged for victory at E3 Saxo Classic, the race touted as the ultimate tune-up for the Tour of Flanders:

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck): 2nd

The rivalry that just keeps giving was back at the center on Friday. (Photo: Jasper Jacobs / Getty)

On the race dynamic and Tour of Flanders next weekend:

It was a really nice race today, and we had some good weather conditions in the end. I felt quite strong and did some nice attacks, but in the end Wout van Aert was stronger in the sprint. I can live with second place. Hopefully next week I can turn things around.

I wanted to do a result today, I’ve never won this race. But I was close, my first time I was third, now second so maybe I need to come back next year. It was really nice to race against these guys again and to sprint, it’s nice. Hopefully next week I can win.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates): 3rd

Pogačar came out swinging at E3. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

On the race tactics:

It was a really nice race, and I had good feelings, so I’m really happy with the result today. It was a bit hectic with positioning and I don’t do these races often, so I had to get used to it. Before the Taainberg I wasn’t in the best position, so I lost a bit of energy, but no such mistakes next Sunday.

Kwarement is the best climb for me, it’s the longest and there I can always try to be the best, but with Van der Poel and Wout van Aert, it’s a bit difficult to drop them anywhere on any climb.

On the ‘nice’ final three of Pogačar, Van Aert, van der Poel:

It would be even nicer if I had a bit more punch in the end. I tried to attack two times but they expected it, they raced to their assets and were on my wheel. I hope next Sunday (at de Ronde) it will be a different story.

Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious): 7th

Mohorič was on the offense in the third quarter of the race but could handle the hardest attacks. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

On his form:

I tried my best, I think I had good legs, I was just a tiny bit short to go with the best three. I think I was a bit too far back on the Taaienberg and had to dig deep to come back to the front and expend energy. Maybe I could have gone with Van Aert on the Kwarement, but it’s just the way it is, the best three were on the front. Hopefully, I can get a half percent better for Flanders.

Confidence for Flanders:

I think the shape is there, I feel the best I ever did, so I’m confident we can get a podium if the stars align. The best three guys were the best today and on the podium, but in these races things happen, crashes, accidents. Hopefully, we are on the lucky side in at least one classic and can take a win or at least the podium.

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