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by Mark Zalewski
March 30, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Kristoff wins second stage of De Panne, Gilbert extends lead; Avila wins a second stage at Tour de Taiwan; Better than ever at Spring Classics, Durbridge sets his eyes on Flanders and Roubaix; Hall closes in on Allegaert as the Indian Pacific Wheel Race approaches its final 1,000km; Keukeleire out of De Panne with Achilles injury; 15 riders, including stage winner Gilbert, fined for riding sidewalks at De Panne opener; Gamesmanship between Quick-Step Floors and Sagan heading into Flanders; Van Avermaet confident heading into Flanders; Bouhanni extends with Cofidis for two years; Gaviria leaves Classics to focus on Giro; Team Sunweb gives injury updates; Bernard Hinault inducted into Giro hall of fame; Phil Gaimon’s “Worst Retirement Ever,” episode 1: Palomar; Cross is not coming (yet).
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) won the second stage of the Three Days of De Panne in a reduced field sprint ahead of Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors). Kristoff actually led himself out in the final sprint, going from nearly 300 metres to hold off the rest.
“It was a lot of headwind in the final, I was a little too far back in the final corner so I started to move up and speed up and kind of led out myself,” said Kristoff. “I knew from the radio I should stay on the wheel but you never know if you’ll get boxed in. It’s always strange when you have a smaller group who is tired from hard racing, and no lead outs. It makes it a bit different but I am good in this kind of sprint. We didn’t get too many of our teammates there but in the end with the victory it doesn’t really matter.”
The reduced group was a result of strong crosswinds that exploded the peloton in the final 50km. Race leader Philippe Gilbert and his Quick-Step Floors team were on the ball, putting him and the majority of his teammates in the front group while second place overall Luke Durbridge (ORICA-Scott) was left by himself in the second group. Gilbert now leads Matthias Brandle who moves into second place by 50 seconds with the final day of both a road and time trial stage remaining. Durbridge dropped to 12th overall at 3:07 behind.
“At first I did not know he was not coming,” Gilbert told Het Nieuwsblad about Durbridge. “Only when our team leader said that on the radio, I knew he was off. That was an extra motivation because he was a close challenger in the standings. Brändle still remains close, so I have not won game, but this is a nice option on the final victory. ”
“It’s 90km but it’s full gas,” Gilbert said about tomorrow’s road stage before the final time trial in the afternoon. “I think Marcel will be ready for this one so we will ride again in the front and hopefully he can win.”