Report: 3 Days of DePanne – Day 1

Spectacular Philippe Gilbert solos to victory on De Panne opening day after destroying rivals on Muur

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Report: 3 Days of DePanne – Day 1

Spectacular Philippe Gilbert solos to victory on De Panne opening day after destroying rivals on Muur

Philippe Gilbert became the first Belgian Champion to win a stage at Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde since 2005, following an audacious display on the queen-stage of the race and an equally impressive amount of work from teammate Dries Devenyns, who laid the foundation for the victory on a day that suited Philippe to the ground, with no less than 11 classified climbs packed between De Panne and Zottegem, on a 206km-long route.

Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele

In a perfectly-executed strategy of Quick-Step Floors, Dries booked a place in a group that got clear 80 kilometers from the finish and patiently waited for Philippe to bridge across, which he did with a vicious attack on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The newly-formed group enjoyed at first had a slim lead, of just 20 seconds, but thanks to some huge and relentless turns of Devenyns, the gap went out to 40 seconds inside the final 30 kilometers.

The chasing group was led by four Katusha riders, and despite having the numbers, they couldn’t match Dries’ efforts, who allowed Philippe to start the Muur with a healthy margin of half a minute. On the steep cobbles of this legendary hill which saw many great champions emerge throughout history, Gilbert attacked without even getting out of the saddle and distanced all the riders of the main group, crossing the top with five seconds in hand.

Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele

Only 16 kilometers separated him from the finish after Kapelmuur, and on the long and wide roads to Zottegem, which included one last climb (Klemhoutstraat), the Quick-Step Floors rider never looked behind and extended his lead on the Australian, a former national time trial champion, arriving at the finish line solo and celebrating his first success since conquering the Belgian title last June.

“To finally get a victory in this beautiful jersey, and for Quick-Step Floors, makes me very happy” Gilbert said afterwards! “I want to thank to my team, and especially to Dries, whose hard-work at the front was quintessential. Now I’m at the top of the overall standings, but I know it won’t be easy to defend my position, so we’ll just take it day by day”, said Philippe Gilbert, who leads the general classification by 22 seconds following his first career win at Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.

At the end of the week, Philippe will ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen for the seventh time and he is aware this win will make him a marked rider: “I know that people will now say that I’m one of the favourites for De Ronde and it’s no secret that I would like to win it. My condition is good, I look forward to the race, but to be frankly, the most important thing is for the team to win there. We have many options and in-form riders, and it will be all about playing the right card in the right moment.”

Matthias Brändle of Trek Segfredo  (double stage winner Tour of Britain) “I think as a team we did a really good job,” said Matthias, explaining the team’s race. “The guys did a lot in the start which was super, super fast. I think we were in every big move before the breakaway went after seven kilometers. Then the race never went slow.”

“When the attack went, I was following on the left and Boy on the right, and I heard Dirk (Demol, director) say in the radio: ‘don’t think about it, just follow!’ So we did, and we both made this group,” continued Brändle.

“We saw that Gilbert and Durbridge were strong, so we tried to do as less as possible because we knew the last time up the Muur it would be hard to follow these guys,” explained Brändle. “It still happened like that, but we gave our best, and the TT is still ahead, and if I have legs like today… I can say that I am the favorite for Thursday’s TT.”

“It was super good to have Boy there,” he added. “He helped me a lot; he did a lot of the work and protected me. Also, Dirk was pushing us from the car to stay up there. It was a good day, and the race is far from over. We can do a good GC here, and I will be attentive to not lose any time in the next stages and then gaining time on Thursday.”

Frederik Backaert (6th) (Wanty Gobert): “It was a very fast ride today. It took very long before the breakaway was established. On the second ascent of Berendries the peloton was lined out. On the next climb, Tenbosse, ten riders went into the offensive. With Muur van Geraardsbergen coming up I decided to move to the first rows of the peloton. I followed the wheel of Gilbert on de Muur and we crossed to the leading group.”

“Some guys, like Jasper De Buyst, had the order not to ride in the front group. Because of that I decided to go on the last ascent of Berendries. I hoped some guys would join my move but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

“I suffered from my earlier efforts on the last ascent on the Muur. If I didn’t attack on Berendries I would have been in front with Gilbert or Durbridge on the last ascent of the Muur. But I wasn’t in his wheel on the first slopes and had to let him and Durbridge go.”

Stage 1
1. Philippe Gilbert, Quick-Step Floors
2. Luke Durbridge, ORICA-Scott :17
3. Simone Consonni, UAE Team Emirates :34
4. Jasper de Buyst, Lotto Soudal
5. Matthias Brändle, Trek – Segafredo
6. Frederik Backaert, Wanty – Groupe Gobert :53
7. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha – Alpecin :58
8. Edward Theuns, Trek – Segafredo
9. Marco Canola, Nippo – Vini Fantini
10. Sacha Modolo, UAE Team Emirates

27. Adam Blythe, Aqua Blue Sport 3.24
40. Marcel Kittel, Quick-Step Floors
84. Andrew Fenn, Aqua Blue Sport @9.31
130. Mark Christian, Aqua Blue Sport
132. Mark Mcnally, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
145. Jack Bauer, Quick-Step Floors
146. Daniel McLay, Fortuneo – Vital Concept
147. Matthew Brammeier, Aqua Blue Sport

1. Philippe Gilbert, Quick-Step Floors
2. Luke Durbridge, ORICA-Scott 0:22
3. Simone Consonni, UAE Team Emirates 0:43
4. Matthias Brändle, Trek – Segafredo 0:46
5. Jasper de Buyst, Lotto Soudal 0:47
6. Frederik Backaert, Wanty – Groupe Gobert 1:06
7. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha – Alpecin 1:11
8. Edward Theuns, Trek – Segafredo
9. Marco Canola, Nippo – Vini Fantini
10. Sacha Modolo UAE Team Emirates




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