Splits and crosswinds cause a switch up in the overall classification on the 2nd stage of De Panne

Wed 29 Mar 2017

After impressive performances in recent weeks, including second place on yesterday’s stage Luke Durbridge has slipped out of contention at Driedaagse de Panne after today’s stage two.

A sudden split in the peloton due to crosswinds left ORICA-SCOTT on the back foot having to work hard in an attempt to bring back the lead group.

In the end the junction was never made and the stage concluded with a reduced sprint won by Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) with Durbridge crossing the line two minutes 39seconds down.

Despite things not going to plan, sport director Laurenzo Lapage remained positive, looking ahead to tomorrow’s final day and ambitious to make the most of final two stages.

“With the wind, positioning is so important, we where in position but then at one moment we were caught in the second group,” Lapage explained. “Durbridge was left alone and then it was too late.”

“It is a wake up call for us for Sunday. There is always a danger when the team is working so well together that you expect it to go well, but these things can happen.

“You can be up there but if you are relaxed for just one moment then on these narrow roads and with the wind, everything can quickly change.

“Of course we are disappointed but this is cycling and some days they are like this.

"We still have two stages tomorrow and Durbridge can have a good go in the time trial and I guess it is good this happened today and not on Sunday in Ronde van Vlaanderen.”

How it happened:

The riders left the start in Zottegem and headed out ready for another long, tough 211kilometre stage.

Inside the first 50kilometres, 10riders broke free, riding out to a maximum advantage of four minutes. Quickstep-Floors led the initial chase before the peloton reached the important part of the race with climbs coming in close succession. 

With 45kilometres to go the wind picked up and suddenly echelons formed and the race drastically changed.

The breakaway were swallowed up by the front group with ORICA-SCOTT riders including Durbridge and Edmondson caught out and having to chase hard to try and rejoin the head of the race, now made up of 22riders.

With many rider’s teammates represented in the front group, Durbridge was left to do much of the chasing and the gap gradually increased out to one-minute as they crossed the finish line and began the finishing laps.

Unfortunately for ORICA-SCOTT and Durbridge the junction to the leaders was never made and the stage concluded with a reduced bunch sprint, with Phillipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) extending his overall lead.

Tomorrow the day is split into two with a morning road stage followed by an individual time trial to conclude proceedings.

Driedaagse de Panne stage two results:

1. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) 4:37:29
2. Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) ST
3. Marcel Kittle (Quickstep-Floors) ST
91. Alex Edmondson (ORICA-SCOTT) +2:39

General classification after stage two:

1. Phillipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) 9:13:28
2. Matthias Brandle (Trek-Segafredo) +0:50
3. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) +1:07
12. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT) +3:07

Photos courtesy of ©