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Dreidaagase de Panne-Koksijde 2015 Stage 1

photo credit @ Team Katusha 

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) claimed the opening stage of this year’s Dreidaagase de Panne-Koksijde today, in a sprint finish ahead of Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing).

“I saw we had Sven [Erik Bystrom] in front, but I know he didn’t really have the best sprint,” said Kristoff. “It was not perfect, but he did a very good race. I could bridge up; I made it up to the first group, and we worked full-gas to make it all the way to the finish.

“I did not know how fresh [Jens Debusschere] was at the end. … He went just when I wanted to go so we went at the same time. I had a little more speed in the legs at the end, so I could take him.”

Race Highlights

Heavy winds forced officials to neutralized the first 14 kilometers of today’s race.

The first breakaway of the day didn’t get underway until the final 50 kilometers, where a small group of riders containing Jen Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Jarl Salomein (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Michael Reihs (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) and Nelson Oliviera (Lampre-Merida), finally managed to ride clear.

From there, the quartet succeeded in establishing a substantial advantage over the peloton.

Shortly thereafter, Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) made the junction as well. And, along with his teammate, Debusschere, both riders proceeded to ride clear of the other escapees.

However, with a little more than 20 kilometers remaining, a group containing Kristoff, Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), and Devolder, managed to leap frog their way through the remnants of the breakaway, to the two leaders up front.

With 10 kilometers left, the sextet continued to hold a 40-second lead over the peloton, as they tackled the climb of the Eikenmolen.

Back in the peloton, a few riders tried to give chase at the crest of the climb, but none succeeded in catching the leaders.

As the race headed into the final five kilometers, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) came to the fore, in an attempt to up the pursuit. But, his efforts netted little more than a five second reduction in the leader’s advantage.

Wiggins’ attempt was subsequently followed by Stefan Kueng (BMC), who tried in earnest to bridge himself to the leaders during the final 2 kilometers. Again, his efforts netted only a slight reduction in the leader’s gap as well.

With the finish line in sight, Bystrom began upping the pace in the breakaway group, with the goal of setting up his teammate and fellow Norwegian, Kristoff.

From there, De Bie countered during the final sweeping right-hand corner. His move was quickly followed by Debusschere, but a final challenge by Kristoff proved to be too much for either rider to hold-off. 

The race continues tomorrow, with a 217 kilometer stage from Zottegem to Koksijde, with Kristoff donning the leader’s jersey.

“It was not the plan this morning. We’ll see how it is tomorrow,” the day’s winner said.

“It never hurts to win an extra victory, I’m really happy now. I felt it was the best team effort we had so far this season.”

Stage 1 Results
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 3:59:31
BEL 2 DEBUSSCHERE, Jens (LOTTO SOUDAL)
BEL 3 DEVOLDER, Stijn (TREK FACTORY RACING)
BEL 4 DE BIE, Sean (LOTTO SOUDAL)
DEN 5 BAK, Lars Ytting (LOTTO SOUDAL)
NOR 6 BYSTRØM, Sven Erik (KATUSHA) + 6
SUI 7 KUENG, Stefan (BMC RACING) + 32
FRA 8 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ) + 34
ITA 9 MODOLO, Sacha (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
ITA 10 SBARAGLI, Kristian (MTN – QHUBEKA)

General Classification after Stage 1
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 3:59:21
BEL 2 DEBUSSCHERE, Jens (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 2
BEL 3 DEVOLDER, Stijn (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 6
DEN 4 BAK, Lars Ytting (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 7
BEL 5 DE BIE, Sean (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 10
NOR 6 BYSTRØM, Sven Erik (KATUSHA) + 16
SUI 7 KUENG, Stefan (BMC RACING) + 42
FRA 8 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ) + 44
ITA 9 MODOLO, Sacha (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
ITA 10 SBARAGLI, Kristian (MTN – QHUBEKA)

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