Photo Credit: Laurens Vervust
Team Cannondale made it a 1-2 on the opening stage of the 3 Days of De Panne with Peter Sagan and Oscar Gatto taking the top 2 placing’s from a small group sprint. Kenneth van Bilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise) finished 3rd.
A high paced start to the day saw that no riders were able to get away until the 70km mark when 6 riders finally got a gap. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were the most aggressive team placing Jay Thomson and Bradley Potgieter into the break. The 6 riders drove the break to a lead of 4 and half minutes before the peloton turned on the chase.
As the gap came down to roughly a minute, a number of riders would attack the peloton and bridge to the leaders. All of the early leaders would slowly fade and drop to the peloton as the fresher legs upped the pace in the break, all except for Jay Thomson. With 14km to go, 8 riders would have a 20” gap over the peloton and Thomson was the only rider left from the original break. What was even more impressive though was that Thomson was the rider driving the break at this point and putting everyone into difficulty over the Langendries climb.
As the race hit the Ten Bosse with 9km to go, Cannondale put in a huge surge from the peloton and split the race into pieces. Sagan and Gatto had jumped across to the leaders by the top of the climb taking a few Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders with them. The added fire power from these World Tour teams finally saw Thomson getting unhitched with just 6km to go. He would eventually finish in the main group, just 20” down on the winners and in 2nd place in the King of the Mountains competition.
Martin Reimer, Youcef Reguigui and Dennis van Niekerk would all put in good rides to finish in the first group of 80 odd riders, along with Thomson.
Rider – Jay Thomson
Today was a crazy fast start with a slight tail wind. The break didn’t go until 70km in. Luckily enough myself and Brad were both in there so it worked out well but the entire team was great in following and making sure we had someone in every move.
I wanted to go for the KOM’s but they put them 300m after the flat sections so was hard to beat the faster guys in the sprints, once they started to get tired I just stayed the same so I could win a few. Would have been great to be in the KOM leaders jersey but hey im just happy I had great feelings in my legs.
After being able to go with the front guys I just didn’t have enough left in the tank to hang in there to the end, otherwise it would have been the perfect day. Getting caught with 3km to go is never easy but hey, it was a great day in prep for Sunday.
Tomorrow and the day after will definitely be for the sprinters so it’ll be good to look after Youcef and see what he can do. To sum it all up though, I am super happy with today.
Directeur Sportif – Michel Cornelisse
Today was a really good day for the team, we really deserved a result and we came pretty close with Jay. He was in the break with Bradley and Bradley did a lot work to open up the time gap as much as possible. It was a very hard stage so it was not easy for any one team to take control.
Thompson was the strongest rider in the break, he made it all the way to the final and was the last rider to be dropped at 4km to go when Sagan put in a 100% effort. I was also surprised that Youcef finished in the front group and with good legs, this will be good for the teams motivation going into the next few sprinters stages. The whole team put in a good effort today and I hope we can continue with this work rate now.
Stage 2 – Zottegem > Koksjide (206km)
More of a pure sprinters stage unless the wind picks up, which is possible.
Stage 3a – De Panne > De Panne (109.7km)
A short stage meaning a really fast stage, with an undulating run into the finish the race could break up here.
Stage 3b – De Panne > De Panne (14.3km) Individual Time Trial
With 3 180 degree turns to deal with, a lot of power will be needed on this technical course.
Staff: Michel Cornelisse (Sports Director), Dr Jarrad van Zuydam (Doctor), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Ian Blackburn (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneur), Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Heiko Henrici (Mechanic), Werrner Lenk (Mechanic), Stevie Chritaens (Mechanic)