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“We have Luke a little over 40seconds down on general classification and for sure we will try for another good result for him this week. Perhaps 40seconds is a little too much against guys like Kristoff, but of course we believe in hi...

Photo: Sirotti






31.03.2015 @ 19:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Danish neo pro Magnus Cort and last year’s runner up Luke Durbridge have finished in the first major group, behind six leaders, on the opening stage of Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.


On another day of racing in high winds, the first 12km were neutralised as organisers had concerns over the smaller roads in the opening section of the course.


Shaping in the final 25km, Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) won the 189.1km opening stage from De Panne to Koksijde ahead of five fellow escapees. Cort and Durbridge crossed the line amongst a group of 40 riders 34seconds in arrears.


“The race split up early and we lost a few guys because the race was so fast,” sport director Laurenzo Lapage said.


“And then Jens Keukeleire had gear problems which brought him out of the first peloton also.


“We have Luke a little over 40seconds down on general classification and for sure we will try for another good result for him this week. Perhaps 40seconds is a little too much against guys like Kristoff, but of course we believe in him and support him.”


Immediately after the flag was dropped the peloton was in three echelons as winds took immediate an effect on the race.  For much of the journey to the finishing circuit, the peloton enjoyed tail winds that saw 56.2km covered in the first hour of racing.


An initial group of seven riders were deemed of threat as they began to move off the front and were contained also immediately. Shortly after, a new group of four spent some time at the head of the race gaining a maximum advantage of 90seconds.


As the quartet’s stint looked like coming to an end, Lotto-Soudal duo Lars Bak and Jens Debusschere formed the new front group.


With 25km to go the remaining peloton split apart and four riders made the junction to the leading pair.


The result was a six man breakaway featuring three Lotto-Soudal, two Katusha and one Trek Factory Racing representative that worked well together for the remainder of the stage to contest first opening day honours.



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