Solid day in the breakaway for Durbridge and Keukeleire at De Panne

Tue 29 Mar 2016

Luke Durbridge and Jens Keukeleire spent over 130kilometres of stage one of Driedaasge De Panne in the breakaway, with Durbridge crossing the line in the front group keeping alive his hopes of a result in the overall general classification.

The two ORICA-GreenEDGE riders were prominent in the group from which the winning attack finally formed. Sport director Laurenzo Lapage was pleased with how the stage unfolded.

“It was a really hard day with attacks from the start and strong winds,” said Lapage. “Luke (Durbridge) and Jens (Keukeleire) did well to get into the break after 65kilometres and keep working for so long.”

“We wanted to get Luke in a good position, that was the plan from the start and the team did an excellent job to make sure that happened. Luke raced intelligently, especially in picking up those mountains points, he didn’t quite have the legs to go with the last attack on the Berendries but we are still in there.”

“Tomorrow will be another hard stage. It’s a long day with a few climbs towards the end and good positioning will be very important.”

After picking up valuable mountains points Durbridge sits in sixth place on the provisional general classification, 42seconds down on stage one winner Alexander Kristoff (Team-Katusha).

How it happened:

Following the tragic passing of 22-year-old Belgian cyclist Daan Myngheer on Easter Monday, the riders at the start in De Panne respected a minutes silence before entering the neutral zone. Stage one was officially underway after 16kilometres, heavy clouds and strong winds were present from the start and began to get progressively worse as the race went on.

The peloton split almost immediately with crashes occurring in the neutral zone. After 50kilometres there were two main groups with a division of 15seconds. The race began very quickly with early average speeds clocked at over 51kmph. An attack involving 17 riders attempted to get away after the first feed zone and began to gain some time on the first group.

The halfway point of the race marked the passage of the first circuit into Zottegem, splits in the peloton began on the sharp cobbled climbs with the leaders vying for the intermediate sprint points. The lead group had an advantage of just over two minutes over the main bunch. This group of 17 escapees included Durbridge and Keukeleire for ORICA-GreenEDGE whilst Etixx-Quickstep led the charge behind.

As the race entered the last 45kilometres the lead group had a one-minute advantage over the chasing peloton, with Durbridge and Keukeleire playing key roles alongside their breakaway companions in the attempt to maintain momentum. The final ascent of the Berendries saw the main bunch splinter again as Tony Martin and Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) began to increase the speed of the chase.

A group of four riders, including Luke Rowe (Team-Sky) and Kristoff, attacked from the lead group and gained a lead of 44seconds approaching the cobbled Muur Van Geraardsbergen. Durbridge and Keukeleire were now back in the advancing peloton as a puncture for Rowe on the Muur saw him lose contact with the other three leaders at a crucial moment.

Kristoff was now alone with Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Lieuwe Westra (Astana) and working together, the group of three managed to keep the chasers at bay all the way to the line. In the final 100metres it was Kristoff who benefited from what seemed to be a lack of understanding between Lutsenko and Westra as he took the stage victory and the top spot on the general classification.

Tomorrow’s stage is 211kilometres from Zottegem to Koksijde, featuring several climbs in the last 100kilometres including the famous Kemmelberg.

Driedaasge De Panne-Koksijde stage one results:

1. Alexander Kristoff (Team- Katusha) 4:22:34
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) ST
3. Lieuwe Westra (Astana) ST
28. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0.00:36


General classification after stage one:

1. Alexander Kristoff (Team katusha) 4:22:24
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) 0:00:01
3. Lieuwe Westra (Astana) 0:00:06
6.  Luke Durbridge (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 0.00:42