photo credit @ FaceBook
Perhaps this year’s Driedaagse de Panne (Three Days of De Panne), should have been called the “Three Days of Kristoff”, as the Katusha won his third consecutive stage victory in as many days today.
The Norwegian rider once again won a sprint finale, after nixing Andre Greipel on the line by a matter of a few millimeters, while Andrea Guardini (Astana) was believed to have finished in third.
However, the sprint was so close, that race officials had to resort to a photo finish in order to determine the winners. In which case, the images indicated that Sacha Modolo had in fact crossed the line just ahead of the Astana rider to claim third place, while Kristoff had beaten Greipel by a margin of 3/10000 of a second or just five millimeters.
“I think I’ve never experienced such a close win. A draw would be a nice result too. For me we could have been both on the podium, we both deserve it, though I am happy with this verdict too, of course,” Kristoff said after becoming the first rider to ever win three stages in the same edition of the Three Days of De Panne.
“I started my sprint a bit from too far, just like I did in Milano-Sanremo. There was more head wind than I expected. Greipel was in my wheel and he almost came around me. I had of course the experience with this short morning stage, it is my fifth Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde and I’ve won this morning stage already two times before. We were dead even at the finish.”
Today’s time bonuses increased Kristoff’s lead to 22 seconds over Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory racing), with the deciding 14.2 kilometer time trial scheduled for later today.
“Three in a row is unique but I don’t think I will make four in a row,” Kristoff admitted. “There are better time trial specialists here than me. I need to go full gas to loose as less seconds as possible and to finish as high as possible in the overall classification. In theory I can lose a lot in 14 kilometers. With a top three and on the final podium I’d be happy.”
Devolder won the race in 2005, and is considered a good time trialist, while Lars Bak (Lotto Soudal) cannot be ruled out either, as the Danish is in third place overall, at only one second further back from Devolder’s time.
Stage 3a Results
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 2:28:26
GER 2 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL)
ITA 3 MODOLO, Sacha (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
ITA 4 GUARDINI, Andrea (ASTANA)
ITA 5 MARECZKO, Jakub (SOUTHEAST)
NED 6 KREDER, Raymond (TEAM ROOMPOT)
NED 7 GROENEWEGEN, Dylan (TEAM ROOMPOT)
FRA 8 SARREAU, Marc (FDJ)
ESP 9 SANZ, Enrique (MOVISTAR)
BEL 10 DEMOITIE, Antoine (WALLONIE – BRUXELLES)
ITA 11 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY)
ITA 12 RUFFONI, Nicola (BARDIANI CSF)
DEN 13 NIELSEN, Magnus Cort (ORICA GreenEDGE)
NZL 14 ARCHBOLD, Shane (BORA-ARGON 18)
AUS 15 RENSHAW, Mark (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
BEL 16 VAN LERBERGHE, Bert (TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE)
BEL 17 PEETERS, Kevin (VASTGOEDSERVICE – GOLDEN PALACE)
FRA 18 LADAGNOUS, Matthieu (FDJ)
BEL 19 LAMPAERT, Yves (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
BEL 20 MELS, Fabrice (TEAM 3M)
General Classification after Stage 3a
NOR 1 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA) 12:01:03
BEL 2 DEVOLDER, Stijn (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 22
DEN 3 BAK, Lars Ytting (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 23
BEL 4 DE BIE, Sean (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 26
NOR 5 BYSTRØM, Sven Erik (KATUSHA) + 32
ITA 6 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY) + 54
GER 7 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 56
BEL 8 DRUYTS, Gerry (VASTGOEDSERVICE – GOLDEN PALACE)
ITA 9 MODOLO, Sacha (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 58
SUI 10 KUENG, Stefan (BMC RACING)
NED 11 KREDER, Raymond (TEAM ROOMPOT) + 1:00
DEN 12 NIELSEN, Magnus Cort (ORICA GreenEDGE)
BRA 13 ANDRIATO, Rafael (SOUTHEAST)
ITA 14 SBARAGLI, Kristian (MTN – QHUBEKA)
BEL 15 BACKAERT, Frederik (WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT)
FRA 16 LADAGNOUS, Matthieu (FDJ)
BEL 17 LAMPAERT, Yves (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
ITA 18 STACCHIOTTI, Riccardo (NIPPO – VINI FANTINI)
ALG 19 REGUIGUI, Youcef (MTN – QHUBEKA)
AUS 20 DURBRIDGE, Luke (ORICA GreenEDGE)
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