DE PANNE, Belgium (VN) – The Three Days of De Panne came down to the wire Thursday afternoon when Sébastian Rosseler (RadioShack) won the final stage, a 15km time trial, to finish six seconds ahead of fellow Belgian Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) on the general classification.
Held on the coastal town of De Panne, the course was an out-and-back with a few extra tentacles added to test technical abilities.
Strong winds made for an early tailwind and late headwind, adding to the short time trial’s complexity.
A former Quick Step domestique whose top results have all come at short, flat stage races such as Four Days of Dunkirk, Eneco Tour of Benelux and the Tour of Belgium, Rosseler was fastest of the 56 riders left in the event after Thursday’s morning stage saw 29 riders abandon the race and 77 riders finish outside of the time cut.
Westra, who started the stage two seconds behind race leader Bert De Backer (Skil-Shimano), was the favorite for the stage win and the overall, however Rosseler proved to be the stronger rider, beating Westra by 14 seconds to win the stage.
Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski (RadioShack) finished the stage in the same time as Westra and rounded out the GC podium.
“I thought Westra would be able to hold on, he’s a good time trial rider,” Rosseler said.
“I’m very happy. It was very windy this morning; it was flat-out for everyone, really. I wasn’t quite sure I’d have the power in my legs for the afternoon, but I did. I started the time trial flat-out, because if you don’t go all-out with the tailwind, you’ll be behind early. The final kilometers were really difficult because of the headwind.”
“I went hard, but Rosseler was stronger,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do if there’s another man that is stronger. The best man won.”
Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra crashed crashed and broke his collarbone when an unexpected gust of wind caused him to lose control of his time-trial bike. His Quick Step team later announced that he’d broken his collarbone and would be forced to sit out Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
“I’m really disappointed for me and the team. The time trial was basically over” said Terpstra. “I was riding along the final stretch, in a residential area no less, when an unexpected gust of wind blew me to the ground. I couldn’t react, everything happened in a fraction of a second. Words cannot express my disappointment. There’s nothing left for me to do but wish the best of luck to all the guys who’ll be riding in the Ronde on Sunday.”
Stage 3b (ITT): De Panne – De Panne
- 1. Sébastien ROSSELER (BEL), Team RadioShack , 18:31
- 2. Lieuwe WESTRA (NED), Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0:14
- 3. Michal KWIATKOWSKI (POL), Team RadioShack, at 0:14
- 4. Sylvain CHAVANEL (FRA), Quick Step, at 0:18
- 5. Bert GRABSCH (GER), HTC-Highroad, at 0:22
- 6. Andriy GRIVKO (UKR), Astana, at 0:24
- 7. Dmitriy MURAVYEV (KAZ), Team RadioShack, at 0:30
- 8. Rick FLENS (NED), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:30
- 9. Tomas VAITKUS (LTU), Astana, at 0:34
- 10. Cyril LEMOINE (FRA), Saur-Sojasun, at 0:50
Final overall standings
- 1. Sébastien ROSSELER (Belgium), Team RadioShack , 12:21:33
- 2. Lieuwe WESTRA (Netherlands), Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0:06
- 3. Michal KWIATKOWSKI (Poland), Team RadioShack, at 0:14
- 4. Sylvain CHAVANEL (France), Quick Step, at 0:18
- 5. Bert GRABSCH (Germany), HTC-Highroad, at 0:22
- 6. Andriy GRIVKO (Ukraine), Astana, at 0:24
- 7. Dmitriy MURAVYEV (Kazakhstan), Team RadioShack, at 0:26
- 8. Rick FLENS (Netherlands), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:30
- 9. Tomas VAITKUS (Lithuania), Astana, at 0:34
- 10. Cyril LEMOINE (France), Saur-Sojasun, at 0:50