Durbridge powers to second place & into second overall on the opening stage of Driedaagse de Panne

Tue 28 Mar 2017

Luke Durbridge had an impressive ride on the opening stage of Driedaagse de Panne to finish in second place on the stage and into second place overall.

The final time up the Muur van Geraardsbergen, Phillipe Gilbert (QuickStep-Floors) and Durbridge rode away from the lead group before the Belgian champion crept away from the 25-year-old over the top of the climb.

Gilbert, unwilling to wait and work with Durbridge, maintained his small advanatge all the way to the finish line to claim the stage victory, with the former Australian champion fighting hard behind to finish just 17seconds a drift.

“It was a fantastic ride from Luke again today,” said sport director Laurenzo Lapage “We have seen in the last few races how he is strong at the moment and today was a great way to open up this tour.”

“He is now 22seconds behind Gilbert overall, it will be close at the end but I think it is still possible for us to win here overall.”

After Durbridge’s consistent results in the classics races recently, he confidently bridged across to a leading group of 15riders which included his ORICA-SCOTT teammate Alex Edmondson, who worked hard to extend the front group’s advantage.

We see that Alex is made for these races,” Lapage continued. “He likes to be here and he likes cobble stones and he did a great ride today to help Durbridge.”

“We saw he was good last week in Catalunya but coming into these races for the first time is not easy.

“We still have two road stages to come before the final time trial which could make a big difference to the overall.”

How it happened:

With pleasant spring weather welcoming the riders to the start line in De Panne the race began with a fast and furious first hour of racing.

Despite multiple attempts no riders where given any freedom in the early stages, and it was after 50kilometres when seven guys jumped ahead and quickly rode out to a one-minute advantage.

With two laps of a tough circuit in the final 80kilometres including famous cobble climbs the peloton picked up the pace and the now reduced group of leaders where finally caught at the 75kilometre to go mark.

Quickly after a new lead group of 16riders broke free including Edmondson, with Durbridge bridging across in a small group after the first ascent of the Muur.

Durbridge managed to sprint to second in the intermediate sprint to take two important bonus seconds as the gap to the chase group extended out to 45seconds.

As the riders headed over the Muur for the final time, Gilbert led with Durbridge tight on his wheel but managed to open up a small gap over the top and led the race solo inside the remaining 15kilometres.

Gilbert crossed the line 17seconds ahead of Durbridge to claim the stage and move into the overall race lead with Durbrige close behind in second place.

Driedaagse de Panne stage one results:

1. Phillipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) 4:36:18
2. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:17
3. Simone Consonni (UAE) +0:34

General classification after stage one:

1. Phillipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) 4:36:05
2. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:22
3. Simone Consonni (UAE) +0:43

Photos courtesy of ©