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With a time of 17.49, Wiggins took his first win in the rainbow jersey in the Driedaagse van de Panne time trial; Kristoff finished an impressive third to win the race overall

Photo: A.S.O.

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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BRADLEY WIGGINS

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DRIEDAAGSE DE PANNE

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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STIJN DEVOLDER

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TEAM SKY

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02.04.2015 @ 17:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) lived up to expectations when he took his first victory in the rainbow jersey by winning the Driedaagse van de Panne time trial in convincing fashion. The world champion beat Stefan Küng (BMC) by 10 seconds while Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) did the time trial of his life to finish third and extend his overall lead over Stijn Devolder (Trek) by a single second, confirming his overall win after a dominant performance.

 

In the early part of the season, Bradley Wiggins has had two chances to show off the rainbow jersey but on both occasions he came up short. He could only manage third in the Tour of Qatar time trial and he was far off the pace in the Paris-Nice prologue.

 

This left him with just one chance to win a race for Sky in the rainbow jersey and that opportunity came in today’s final time trial of the Driedaagse van de Panne. With a solid performance, the Brit fully lived up to expectations when he covered the 14.2km course in 17.49 which turned out to be the fastest time of the day.

 

The Brit was one of the first GC riders to start and so he faced a nervous wait in the hot seat. However, no one was able to get close to his time and he could celebrate a comfortable win in the final time trial at this level in his long career.

 

His nearest rival turned out to be one of the most exciting talents as Stefan Küng (BMC) confirmed his potential as a great time triallist by finishing second, 10 seconds off the mark. The Swiss put in a consistent ride to be second at both the intermediate check and the finish to make a very solid first time trial as a pro.

 

Going into the stage, the big discussion was whether overall leader Alexander Kristoff would be able to defend his 22-second advantage over Stijn Devolder but it very quickly became apparent that the Norwegian was not going to be beaten. At the time check after 5.4km of racing, he had only lost a single second.

 

In fact, Kristoff was riding so well that he managed to distance Devolder in the second part of the course and he stopped the clock in 18.07 to finish the stage in third, one second ahead of Devolder. That was enough to confirm his overall victory, the biggest stage race victory of his impressive career. Devolder finished second while Wiggins used his stage win to move into third.

 

Of course Kristoff also took a comfortable win in the points competition while Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the best climber. Michael Vingerling (3M) won the sprints jersey while Lotto Soudal finished the race as the best team.

 

With the Driedaagse van De Panne done and dusted, attention now turns to the Tour of Flanders which is the main goal for most of the riders who have been active on the Belgian roads these last few days.

 

A traditional finish

As usual, the Driedaagse van De Panne finished with the same 14.2km time trial in the streets of De Panne. The course was completely flat but had several technical sections which meant that sprinters have often done well in this test.

 

The first rider down the ramp was Mirko Tedeschi (Southeast) who stopped the clock in 20.01 to set an early mark. However, he was quickly beaten into second by Berden De Vries (Roompot) whose time of 19.10 allowed him to spend some time in the hot seat.

 

Sergent sets an early mark

Nic Dougall (MTN-Qhubeka) got close when he stopped the clock in 19.11 but it was sprinter Danny van Poppel (Trek) who finally knocked De Vries down from the first spot with a time of 19.02. He narrowly held off Jan Ghyselick (Wanty) who was just 0.50 seconds slower.

 

Jesse Sergent (Trek) was the first time trial specialist on the course and he was expected to set an early best time. He lived up to expectations when he stopped the clock in 18.17 to move into a comfortable lead.

 

Mouris slots into second

Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEDGE) became the second rider to go below 19 minutes when he set a time of 18.30. Last year’s third place finisher David Boucher (FDJ) was 6 seconds slower to make it into third.

 

Mads Pedersen (Cult) did surprisingly well when he posted a time of 18.47 which was good enough for fourth but he was beaten by another youngster when Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) slotted into third with a time that was 11 seconds faster. William Bonnet (FDJ) and Andreas Schillinger (Bora) both made it into the top with times of 19.03.

 

Best time for van Keirsbulck

Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) was second at the intermediate check but he lost a bit of ground towards the end and slotted into fourth with 18.35. That was 3 seconds faster than time trial specialist Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) who made it into 6th.

 

Andy Fenn (Sky) did the time trial of his life to go just fractions of a second slower than the Portuguese champion before defending champion Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) hit the course. Having lost time due to a puncture in stage 1, the Belgian was keen to make amends and he did so by beating Sergent by 10 seconds.

 

Wiggins takes the lead

Antoine Duchescne (Europcar) and Boris Vallee (Lotto Soudal) both had surprisingly good rides to make it into the top 10 while Christian Knees (Sky) had hoped for more than a 10th spot. Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) made it two riders on the podium when he went 16 seconds slower than van Keirsbulck.

 

All eyes now were on Wiggins who had distanced van Keirsbulck by 3 seconds at the intermediate check. The Brit increased his speed in the second half and at the finish, he had taken the lead by 18 seconds.

 

Kristoff takes the overall win

Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) both missed out on the top 10 before Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) slotted into sixth. Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who was second 12 months ago, was far off his 2014 pace and could only manage fourth.

 

Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) continued the good Etixx-QuickStep performance when he made it into sixth before Küng stole all the attention by becoming the second rider to go faster than 18 minutes. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Sky) had impressive rides to make it into 9th and 11th respectively.

 

Sven Erik Bystrøm (Katusha) dropped down in the GC with a time of 19.03 while Sean De Bie and Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) both missed the overall podium by finishing outside the top 15. Hence, it was left to Devolder to beat Kristoff and he did well by stopping the clock in the fourth best time. However, Kristoff was one second faster and so confirmed his overall win in the race.

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