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De Bie rides to GC win in West Flanders stage 2

Lotto – Soudal’s Sean De Bie started stage 2 of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (Three Days of West Flanders) in fifth place on GC behind leader Tom Bohli (BMC Racing), but he finished the day as the overall winner.

The 24-year-old Belgian was part of a small group that broke away from the bunch late on in a windy, rainy stage 2. The escapees managed to stay clear to fight for both the stage victory and the GC win amongst themselves.

Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems) led the group over the finish line to take the stage win. De Bie, whose strong prologue performance got him into the GC conversation to begin with, came across in second place on stage 2. Adding bonus seconds into the equation, that was good enough to grant him the overall title.

“After the finish I was disappointed at first because I had missed out on the stage win, but soon I realized I had won the GC and of course I am over the moon now,” De Bie said.

“Our team raced at the front all day long. On the cobblestones in Diksmuide, at about fifty kilometers from the end, we raised the pace. The wind had made the race hard right from the beginning, after 100 kilometers everybody was tired and when we set a higher pace the peloton split again.

“With four teammates we were part of a new front group of twenty. When entering the local circuit, with about forty kilometers to go, there was a rush. Tosh [van der Sande] and I sprinted for the bonus seconds and then immediately forced a new selection. The new break had the perfect composition, with riders who were interested in GC and others who were keen on winning the stage.”

That well-composed breakaway group helped power De Bie to his first ever GC win as a pro.

Fellow escapee Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx – Quick-Step) finished the three-day race in second overall, seven seconds behind De Bie, while Nils Politt (Katusha), also in the late breakaway move, finished third in both stage 2 and the overall standings.

Having missed the winning move, Bohli finished in a large group 54 seconds behind the stage winner, closing out the race in eighth on GC.