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Bodnar took his second win in the time trial at the 3 Days of De Panne, beating Martin and Bohli by less than a second; Westra finished fourth which was enough to win overall, with Kristoff and Lutsenko completing the podium

Photo: Sirotti
















31.03.2016 @ 17:27 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two years after taking his first international time trial win in De Panne, Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff) did it again when he won a thrilling final stage of the 3 Days of De Panne. The Pole was less than a second faster than both Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Tom Bohli (BMC) which was enough to take the win in the closest time trial ever in the Belgian race. Lieuwe Westra (Astana) had to settle for fourth but that was enough to take the overall victory.


Known as a solid time triallist, Maciej Bodnar took a major step up when he won the time trial at the 2014 3 Days of De Panne. Back then the result was a bit of a surprise but since then he has made huge strides and improved his level a lot after he joined Tinkoff for the 2015 season.


That made him one of the favourites for today’s edition of the technical TT in De Panne and again proved his class by taking the victory after a thrilling finale. The Pole finished in a time of 7.39 which was 10 seconds faster than Bradley Wiggins’ winning time of 2015 and so it was clearly right from the start that he would be hard to beat.


Being an early starter, he faced a long wait in the hot seat and knew that there were some big names still to come. However, it was one of the big talents who gave him the first scare.


Tom Bohli who beat the course record in the 3 Days of West-Flanders prologue again proved his big potential when he went 6 seconds faster than Bodnar at the time check. Some nervous minutes followed for Bodnar but he could make a sigh of relief when the Swiss sprinted to the line, coming up short by just 0.7 seconds.


The big threat for Bodnar was always going to be former world champion Tony Martin who seemed to be on track for the win when he was two seconds faster than the Pole at the time check after a first part of the course that suited him less. However, the big German again failed to be at his former level in a big time trial and couldn’t keep up with Bodnar in the final part. In a thrilling finale, Martin was just 0.5 second slower than Bodnar, meaning that three riders ended the stage separated by just 0.7 second.


The final real challenger for Bodnar was Lieuwe Westra who was riding for the overall win after he had been second twice. The Dutchman was also a potential stage winner and he gave Bodnar another scare when he went one second faster at the time check. However, like everybody else, he lost ground in the finale and was three seconds off the pace in third place.


While the stage win didn’t come, it was still a big day for Westra. He had gone into the time trial with 5 seconds to make up on teammate Alexey Lutsenko and 12 seconds to make up on defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). However, things were looking good already at the time check where he had already passed Lutsenko by a second and only needed to gain another three seconds on Kristoff.


Lutsenko and Kristoff both did good time trials to finish 7th and 8th respectively but it was not enough to defend their positions. In the end, Kristoff had to settle for second with a time loss of 13 seconds while Lutsenko was 3 seconds further adrift in third. Martin moved into fourth while former winner Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) rounded out the top 5.


Kristoff again won the points jersey and Loic Vliegen was the best climber. Danny Van Poppel (Sky) won the sprints competition and Mads Pedersen (Stölting) was the best young rider. Astana won the teams classification.


With the 3 Days of De Panne done and dusted, attention turns to the biggest race of the Flemish calendar, Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen.


A technical course

After the morning stage, the race was decided in the traditional 14.2km time trial in De Panne. It was held on the same course that has been used in the last couple of years and was a technical, completely flat affair with lots of turns, roundabouts and U-turns.


It was cloudy and cold when Mamyr Stash (Gazprom) rolled down the ramp as the first rider at 14.30 local time. He stopped the clock in 19.28 to set an early mark which only allowed him to lead the race for less than 2 minutes as Lasse Norman (Stölting) was 26 seconds faster.


Hoelgaard takes the lead

Victor Manakov (Gazprom) had been faster than Norman at the intermediate time check but failed to maintain the speed, crossing the line in 19.06. Phil Bauhaus (Bora-Argon 18) also lost ground in the second part and so missed out.


Instead, it was Daniel Hoelgaard (FDJ) who pushed Norman out of the hot seat. Having already been 9 seconds faster at the time check, he stopped the clock in 18.48 to beat the Dane by 14 seconds. Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) was his first challenger but the veteran missed out by a single second.


Dominant performance by Bodnar

Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Argon 18) had been behind Hoelgaard at the time check but he rode a strong second half to beat the Norwegian by six seconds before Andrew Fenn (Sky) slotted into fifth. There was disappointment for Davide Martinelli (Etixx-QuickStep) as he was 9 seconds off the pace in fourth plac.


However, everybody already had their eyes firmly on Bodnar. The Pole had been much faster than his rivals at the time check and when he stopped the clock in 17.39 to beat Pöstlberger by 1.03, it was evident that he would be very hard to beat.


Bialoblocki slots into second

A frustrated Floris Gerts (BMC) wa second at the time check but he hit the deck and had to settle for fourth at the finish. Yesterday’s winner Elia Viviani (Sky) was one of the few sprinters to go full gas and crossed the line in 7th place.


Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE) made it two Poles in the top 2 but his time of 18.23 was no less than 44 seconds off the pace. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) was three seconds slower and slotted into third before Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) made it two Tinkoff riders in the top 5 with a time of 18.43.


Polish domination

The Polish domination continued and it was briefly an entire Polish podium when Lukasz Wisniowski posted the second best time, 40 seconds off Bodnar’s time. It was another rider from Eastern Europe who broke the Polish dominance as Alexander Porsev (Katusha) slotted into third with 18.22.


Jack Bauer gave Cannondale something to be pleased about as he posted the sixth best time before another rider from Eastern Europe moved onto the podium. Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) was the best of the rest behind Bodnar but he was still 38 seconds too slow.


Bohli misses out

Barta hadn’t even caught his breath before Bohli sprinted to the line, getting frustratingly close to the lead as he was just 0.7 second off the mark. Another talent, Jonas Rickaert (Topsport), had bad luck as he saw a good start getting destroyed by a mechanical.


Johan Le Bon (FDJ) was one of the favourites after his second place in the Tirreno TT but this time he had to settle for a provisional third place, 19 seconds off the pace. Moments later, Berden De Vries (Roompot) did a very good time trial to slot into ninth before being pushed down one spot by Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana).


No glory for Martin

Last year’s runner-up Stefan Küng (BMC) was unable to repeat his 2015 performance and had to settle for fourth. Another talent almost did just as good as Nils Politt(Katusha) posted the seventh bedt stime.


Chavanel had won the time trial twice but this year he was 22 seconds off the pace when he posted the fourth best time. However, it was Martin that everybody was waiting for and in another thriller, the German had to settle for second.


Westra wins the race

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) secured himself an overall top 10 by posting the seventh best time before Pedersen slotted into 14th. Just seconds later, Westra powered down the finishing straight and while he was three seconds off the pace in the battle for the stage win, his fourth place put him in pole position for the GC.


Lutsenko was unable to change that as he could only manage seventh and when Kristoff arrived at the finishing straight, Westra could already start to celebrate before the Norwegian reached the finish in the 8th best time.



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