Three Days of De Panne. The three day, four stage belter of a Belgian race. The PERFECT filler between Gent-Wevelgem and De Ronde!
Stage 1: De Panne to Zottegem, 205.5km
No two ways about it. I LOVE this race, and the opening stage is just the business. Not only does the route pass over many familiar climbs, but also the riders take on the Muur van Geraardsbergen – TWICE. Today Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) – resplendent in full National Champion kit – stormed up those fabled rough cobbles on his way to a magnificent solo victory. What could possibly be more Belgian? Or more of a gauntlet thrown down for De Ronde Sunday?
Orica Scott’s in-form Luke Durbridge matched Gilbert pedal stroke for pedal stroke until the Belgian kicked on final metres of the Muur. The 16km run for home saw a time trial chase with #TurboDurbo limiting his losses to 17secs on the line, +22secs after bonifications. In a race that always comes down to seconds and the final twisty time trial, this could well be enough to see him atop the podium. Having said that, you just know Phil Gil will be after all the bonus seconds he can get. What a mouth watering prospect.
Highlights, we pick it up just before they hit the Muur for the second time…
Phil Gil and bumble bee plushie….
My heart was in my mouth watching this. Just an accident waiting to happen and 200 Swiss Francs is not enough…
The race is not nicknamed 3 Days of Pain for nothing. Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue) on the Muur #ouch
Riding with Phillippe – for about 5secs…
Full report at Cycling News.
Header image: Philippe Gilbert storing the Muur © LC/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images