What's Cool In Road Cycling

Preview Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde

Tuesday, the 41st edition of the Driedaagse De Panne – Koksijde begins. Those three days are also the last racing days before the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Driedaagse includes two stages in a straight line and on the last day there’s a double programme to cover. In the morning there’s a short stage followed by an individual time trial in the afternoon.

The opening stage will go from De Panne to Zottegem. There are eleven hills to overcome on the first day. On the two local laps of 46.9 kilometres each, the riders have to go over the Berendries, Ten Bosse, Muur van Geraardsbergen and Klemhoutstraat. The first stage is a tough one and crucial for the GC. Stages two and three will probably turn out to be a sprint. On the last day there’s an individual time trial in the afternoon, which will be decisive for the GC.

Frederik Willems is the sports director for Lotto Soudal during the Driedaagse De Panne – Koksijde. He won the GC in 2009 so he is the ideal man to look ahead to the race.

Sports director Frederik Willems: “We are going with ambition to the Driedaagse. Tony Gallopin and Jens Debusschere are our two leaders. Gallopin recovered well from his crash and we receive nothing but good signs from his trainings. A race is different than a training though, so we are going to wait until the first hour of the first stage to see how his body reacts.”

“The first stage has a classic profile and suits Tony. With 110 kilometres to go, just before the local laps, the Haaghoek is the first crucial point. On the local laps the riders have to overcome the Muur van Geraardsbergen twice. It’s an opportunity to get rid of the sprinters like Kittel and Kristoff. If the riders are going with a group to the finish we are going to put our chances on Jens Debusschere. The first stage will play a big part for the GC. In stages two and three I’m expecting a bunch sprint. The competition for the sprint is big. Quick-Step Floors has Marcel Kittel and Team Katusha has Alexander Kristoff, but Jens Debusschere should not shy away from sprinting against them. In the individual time trial you can also make the difference for the GC. I’m looking forward to the results of Gallopin, De Buyst and Frison.”

“Jasper De Buyst has carte blanche. Hofland will pull the sprint for Debusschere. Mertz is there to gain experience, while Bak and Sieberg have loads of experience.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Lars Bak, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Tony Gallopin, Moreno Hofland, Rémy Mertz and Marcel Sieberg.
Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stage 1 Tuesday 28 March: De Panne – Zottegem (205.5 km)
Stage 2 Wednesday 29 March: Zottegem – Koksijde (192.9 km)
Stage 3a Thursday 30 March: De Panne – De Panne (118.5 km)
Stage 3b Thursday 30 March: De Panne – De Panne (14.2) (ITT)

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