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"After the finish I was thrown off my bike by a sudden gust of wind when I wanted to raise my hands. My knee is swollen, and I have a few scrapes, but my victory makes me forget about it," Dehaes says

Photo: Vincent Calu/Photonews

BREDENE KOKSIJDE CLASSIC

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KENNY DE HAES

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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16.03.2013 @ 10:10 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Kenny Dehaes (Lotto-Belisol) was the fastest in yesterday's sprint finish of the Handzame Classic. After a cold and windy day, a sudden gust of wind even destroyed his victory celebrations.

 

The 2013 edition of the Handzame Classic will most surely go down in history as the hardest yet as terrible weather conditions forced organizers to modify the route and remove the hilly zone in favour of more laps on the final circuit. This did, however, not make the race any easier as the wind and cold made for an epic race.

 

The harsh conditions almost made it impossible for the peloton to catch a late three-man break as Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Alphonse Vermote (An Post-Chainreaction) and Wesley Kreder (Vacansoleil) almost foiled the sprinters.

 

In the end the predicted bunch sprint ensued, and Kenny Dehaes secured his second win of the season by holding off the Vacansoleil duo of Kenny Van Hummel and Danny Van Poppel.

 

The wind played a crucial role throughout the race, and the bunch split into two groups in the opening part of the race. The race eventually came back together, but Dehaes was happy to see his team showing awareness all day long.

 

"In the beginning it was pretty windy, so we had to be alert of any creation of echelons," Dehaes explained. "We were seven men from Lotto-Belisol in the first group and tried to build up an advantage over the second peloton, but it all came back together. With Jonas Vangenechten we had a man in the next five-man escape, so we were able to sit back in the bunch. The break was caught in the finishing circuits and so the team did what it could to prepare me for the sprint."

 

"We were about to miss out as a dangerous break got up the road, but the chasing by Gaetan Bille and Jens Debusschere handed me the chance to go for the victory in a sprint. I was set up perfectly and could just hold off a fast-finishing Van Hummel. After the finish I heard that they needed a photo to determine the winner, but I never had any doubt."

 

If the sweet victory had made Dehaes forget about the day's climatic conditions, Mother Nature made sure to send him a small reminder.

 

"After the finish I was thrown off my bike by a sudden gust of wind when I wanted to raise my hands," Dehaes told. "My knee is swollen, and I have a few scrapes, but my victory makes me forget about it."

 

After his victory in the opening race of the Challenge Mallorca, Kenny Dehaes now seems to be back on track after a number of winless year. He was regarded as a highly talented sprinter, but his progress stalled during a stint at Katusha and his first years at Lotto. With his current success, he gives the Lotto team a good chance in bunch sprints even when star sprinter Andre Greipel is absent.

 

Dehaes will now turn his focus to playing a support role in some of the cobbled classics.

 

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