Mezgec avoids the chaos to grab eighth at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne

Wed 27 Mar 2019

Slovenian Luka Mezgec avoided the drama to sprint to eighth place in a chaotic and crash-affected finale at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.

The technical finishing loop saw numerous riders go down, including Australians Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn, with the former coming off worse.

In the end it came down to a fast finish on the tricky streets of De Panne, with Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) sprinting to the win and Mezgec getting up for a top 10 place.

Fast Start

As the peloton rolled out of Brugge a group of six riders went on the attack as soon as the flag dropped, and they eventually established the day’s breakaway.

Their advantage stretched out to a maximum of five minutes, but the gap began to fall as the race passed over the Kemmelberg and a counter attack of five riders was launched behind.

The race burst into life as the five attackers moved a minute clear of the bunch, causing a reaction in the peloton. But with big names amongst the select group the move was soon shut down.

Finishing Loops

The tricky finishing loop around De Panne caused several problems for the peloton, with Durbridge unfortunately crashing out of the race heading onto the final lap.

The technical course claimed more victims with a big crash in the bunch at around 10km to go, and anyone caught at the wrong side of the resulting split was out of contention for the win.

The sprinters teams took over as the break was finally reeled in and it was then all about negotiating the run to the finish. Mezgec positioned himself well as the sprint opened up and was able to hold onto to grab eighth place as Groenewegen took the victory.

Luka Mezgec:
“I did really well with the positioning myself in the final, but unfortunately the pace slowed down at 500m to go, and that allowed other sprinters with leadout guys to come back and I ended up boxed in.”

“As a team we rode well during the day, at all important points we were well positioned. The wind wasn’t a factor today, but the course was sketchy and there were crashes happening all the time.”

“Overall I am happy with my positioning in the final, but not so happy with the result.”

Laurenzo Lapage (Sports Director):
“These races here in Belgium when there is no wind, some people say it’s more relaxed, but it can be more dangerous at the end because a lot of riders are fresh and more people are fighting for position.”

“The idea for a team like us was to make it hard for the pure sprinters, we had Luka, but against the like of Viviani and Groenewegen it’s tough in the sprint, so our plan was to make it tough around the hilly zone.”

“But there were parts where we had made plans before the race to put it in the gutter but if there’s no wind it’s hard to do that.”

Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne Results:

1. Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:36:32
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) ST
3. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) ST
8. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.