Danny Van Poppel won stage 1 of the Three Days of West-Flanders today, beating Danilo Napolitano and Scott Thwaites in a sprint finish. Meanwhile, Gert Joeaar comfortably defended his overall lead with just one stage remaining.
Today sprint finish came at the end of an aggressive day of racing, as several teams tried to put overall leader Gert Joeaar and his Cofidis team under pressure. However, despite several attacks throughout the day, and constant reshuffling at the front, Cofidis managed to neutralize the attacks, and set up their man Van Poppel for the sprint.
Stig Broeckx was the last man to initiate an attack. However, the Lotto Belisol rider was caught in the final 4 kilometers. And, from there, it was a fast pace all the way to the finish.
Toward the finale, Topsport Vlaanderen took control of the lead in order to set up their sprinters Kenneth Vanbilsen and Tom Van Asbroeck. However, in the end they proved to be no match for Van Poppel’s fierce acceleration.
Joeaar finished safely within the field to defend his 5-second lead over Johan Le Bon. All the Estonian rider needs to do now to seal his overall victory, is to get through tomorrow’s stage. However, that will be no easy task, as riders will face the climbs of the Goeberg, Zwarteberg, Rodeberg, Monteberg and Kemmelberg at midpoint in the stage, along with three laps on a finishing circuit.
1 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 4:14:21 2 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty – Groupe Gobert 3 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Team NetApp – Endura 4 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale 5 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Lotto Belisol 6 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole 7 Boris Vallee (Bel) Lotto Belisol 8 Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Vini Fantini Nippo 9 Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 10 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Cyclingteam De Rijke 11 Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles 12 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Giant-Shimano 13 Antoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles 14 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 15 Yoeri Havik (Ned) Cyclingteam De Rijke 16 Andrew Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 17 Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp – Endura 18 Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 19 Ralf Matzka (Ger) Team NetApp – Endura 0:00:04 20 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Team 3M 21 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Veranclassic – Doltcini 22 Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp – Endura 23 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing 24 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.fr 25 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp
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