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“With the win, I hope for a spot on Omega Pharma’s team. It’s not a given in such a strong team, but I think that I have shown that I deserve a spot. We have a lot of classics riders, and everyone is in good shape," V...

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

CLASSIC BRUGGE-DE PANNE

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GERT STEEGMANS

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GUILLAUME VAN KEIRSBULCK

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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03.04.2014 @ 20:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck became a surprise winner of the Driedaagse van De Panne when a mechanical set his team leader Niki Terpstra back. The young Belgian took over when the captain faded and did an excellent time trial to secure that the win stayed in the team's ranks and now he hopes to get selected for the Tour of Flanders as part of an Omega Pharma-Quick Step team loaded with classics specialists.

 

The general classification of VDK Driedaagse de Panne-Koksijde came down to four riders on course at the same time: Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team riders Niki Terpstra, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, and the race leader Gert Steegmans against ORICA-GreenEDGE rider Luke Durbridge at the 14km Stage 3b time trial on Thursday.

 

Van Keirsbulck emerged as the overall winner thanks to an impressive top 5 finish in the stage. He placed 5th with a time of 18'02". Gert Steegmans rounded out the GC podium, finishing with a time of 18'19" in the stage.

 

The day, however, did not go perfectly for OPQS. Niki Terpstra had a problem with a small broken piece of his left pedal when he left the start house, which left him unable to clip back in and push 100 percent — especially accelerating after the corners — for the rest of the race.

 

Terpstra was unable to contest the stage or the overall, but despite the mechanical problem he finished 4th in the GC with an 18'21" stage finishing time.

 

Maciej Bodnar (POL) won the stage (17'51") by 3" over Jan Barta (Team NetApp-Endura) and 6" over David Boucher (FDJ.fr).

 

This is the 19th victory, in three disciplines, for OPQS in 2014. OPQS has won the GC at VDK Driedaagse de Panne-Koksijde for three consecutive years.

 

"I came here with the goal to work hard and try to win a stage," Steegmans said. "Then I ended up with the leader jersey, so at that point I did the TT full gas. But it's nice to be beaten by Guillaume. It would have been even nicer if we could have done 1-2-3 with Niki. But despite the bad luck of Niki, we're happy about the win. Guillaume deserves the victory as he is riding really well."

 

"I'm super happy," Van Keirsbulck said. "It's something unexpected. In the team we had really strong riders like Steegmans and Terpstra, so I wasn't really thinking about the classification. But today I said to myself to try 100 percent and see what could have happened.

 

"At the end of the race I was at the team bus and they called me to go to the podium. It was a great feeling. At first I didn’t believe it when they called me to the podium. I thought Niki was going to win. He’s one of the best time trial riders on the team here and I thought he would be the winner today, or maybe Gert.

 

"Rik van Slycke really pushed me a lot during the race. He told me that I was fighting for the GC, so I really gave everything. There was a lot of wind and there were a lot of corners at the start, but Rik Van Slycke was giving me instructions and he told me I was set for a good time. He said if I got the rider in front of me it would be a good time trial but you know he was [under-23] world champion [Durbridge] so it wasn’t so easy to catch him.”

 

"I'm super happy, really. I rode Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, It wasn't in my schedule originally, but now I'm happy to have done it. It gave me a good feeling on my condition and the right race rhythm.

 

"I can consider this the most important victory of my career. I think that I developed the base for this season starting last year at La Vuelta. That was my first big tour. Since that moment I feel stronger, even if I know that I have to work really hard to even improve. I also solved my problem with the back that was present during my winter training. Now I'm happy and I can enjoy this moment."

 

Van Keirsbulck now hopes to get selected for the Tour of Flanders.

 

“With the win, I hope for a spot on Omega Pharma’s team. It’s not a given in such a strong team, but I think that I have shown that I deserve a spot. We have a lot of classics riders, and everyone is in good shape. It’s a big fight even to get onto the eight-man team.

 

“On this team, it’s not so easy, because it has all the best riders, so I try to do my best, and work for the team. Sometimes it comes together, and you can get lucky, and win a nice race.

 

“I’ve done Paris-Roubaix three times already but something has always happened at the Forest of Wallers. The first year I had a flat tyre, the second year a crash and last year I broke my wheel. Still, Paris-Roubaix is more a race for me [than Flanders]. I like the cobbles, I don’t know why but I’m good on the cobbles there.”

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