Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were real protagonists of the 2nd 3 Days of De Panne stage as Nic Dougall made the break of the day while the team performed a strong leadout in the finale once again.
Kristian Sbaragli would finish the stage off in 6th position for our African team, only a few bike lengths behind repeat stage victor, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and Shane Archbold (Bora Argon 18) were the two riders who completed the stage podium after the big bunch gallop.
The early racing during the 217km stage saw 12 riders jump clear of the peloton. In the move, Nic made sure MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were represented. The young South African put in a classy ride to make it to the final 30km of the stage in the lead. The stage was another typically tough Belgian one with strong winds, echelons and a few Hellingens to contend with too, but in the end the run in to the line suited the sprinters.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung showed excellent awareness by following all the dangerous moves in the final kilometers before eventually taking control of the peloton with 14km to go, ensuring the last of the breakaway riders were reeled in. With 3km to go the African sprint train was still going strong with 4 riders at the head of the race. The technical final kilometer made it a difficult sprint to position yourself for and Kristian eventually had to settle for 6th.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
The team worked really well for Youcef and me in the final today, they were excellent. I was locked against the barrier on the left side of the road at 50m to go and I had to brake. I am disappointed as I lost the chance to get our team the podium. Tomorrow isn’t a very good stage for me because it is too short and easy but I will certainly try my best.