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Having made it into a 5-rider break late in the race, Lampaert and his companions held off the peloton and with a sprint win the Belgian took both the stage and the leader’s jersey

Photo: © Etixx - Quick-Step / Tim de Waele

DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DRIEDAAGSE VAN WEST-VLAANDEREN

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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YVES LAMPAERT

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07.03.2015 @ 17:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) confirmed his huge potential by taking a breakthrough win in the first stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. The Belgian joined a five-rider break late in the race and despite never having an advantage of more than 40 seconds, the quintet stayed away, with Lampaert beating Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and Sander Cordeel (Vastgoedservice) in the sprint to take both the stage victory and the leader’s jersey.

 

Last year Yves Lampaert delivered some impressive performances in the classics. Having marked himself out as a man for the future, it was no surprise that Etixx-QuickStep offered him a contract.

 

Last Sunday he started to pay back his team for the confidence when he rode strongly in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and last Wednesday he was an impressive fifth in Le Samyn despite working for Gianni Meersman. Hence, he went into the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen as a man to watch.

 

Being a strong time triallist, Lampaert harboured GC ambitions and he set himself up for a good result when he finished fourth in the prologue. With the two road stages being expected to be decided in bunch sprints, however, it seemed that Lampaert would find it difficult to turn things around.

 

Today he did what most had thought to be impossible when he won the first stage of the race and took the overall lead in the process. The Belgian used a combination of power and tactical strength to deny the sprinters their chance to sprint for the win.

 

First he was part of a 14-rider group that formed after the passage of the Oude Kwaremont with around 75km to go and when that group was brought back, he went on the attack again. Together with Sander Cordeel, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty), he bridged the gap to Tosh van der Sande who was the lone leader of the race and those five riders started the first of four laps of a 9.9km finishing circuit with a 40-second advantage.

 

Katusha seemed to have everything under control for their overall leader Anton Vorobyev and with two laps to go, they had brought the gap down to 15 seconds. At the start of the final lap, however, it was still 17 seconds and with 8km to go, it even reached 20 seconds.

 

The five leaders did an amazing performance and with 3km to go, they were still 13 seconds ahead. At the start of the penultimate kilometre, they had only lost one second of that advantage and they passed the flamme rouge with a 10-secon gap.

 

Cordeel tried to make a late attack but Lampaert proved his strength by passing the Belgian to take the win ahead of van der Sande and the Vastgoedservice rider. Danny Van Poppel (Trek) beat Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) in the sprint for sixth.

 

The 10 bonus seconds and the small time gap was enough for Lampaert to take the leader’s jersey off Vorobyev’s shoulders and he now goes into the final stage as the leader of the race. It is a slightly hillier affair as the riders will tackle the Kemmelberg, Monteberg and Rodenberg before they reach the finish in Ichtegem where they will do three laps of a circuit with the small Keidenberg and Ruidenberg climbs.

 

A flat coruse

The first stage was held on an almost completely flat 174.1km course from Brugge to Harelbeke. There was two main challenges along the way as the riders would tackle the cobbles of Varent before they hit the Oude Kwaremont after around 100km of racing. In the end, however, they would do four laps of a flat 9.9km circuit in Harelbeke.

 

Daniel Summerhill (UnitedHealthCare) who was last in the prologue, was the only rider who was not present when the riders left Brugge in calm and sunny conditions. The first attack seemed to pay off as Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Thomas Vaubourzeix (Veranclassic) and Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems) got an immediate gap when they made an early move.

 

The break is formed

Sander Cordeel (Vastgoedservice) briefly tried to bridge the gap but he was quickly brought back. However, the peloton was not content with the situation and after 30km of racing, the front group was brought back.

 

Tim Kerhof (Team Roompot), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Alistair Slater (An Post-Chain Reaction) and Gorik Gardeyn (Veranclassic Ekoi) had more luck when they made a move at the 40km mark. They were allowed to gain some ground and quickly got a gap of 2.45 while Katusha stated to chase in the peloton.

 

Katusha in control

The Russian team allowed the gap to reach 3 minutes before they stabilized the situation. Meanwhile, van Hoecke beat Kerkhof and Gardeyn in the first intermediate sprint to pick up three important bonus seconds.

 

Shiki Kuroeda (Vini Fantini) hit the ground while the gap was kept stable at 3 minutes. However, the peloton took a small breather as they prepared for the hectic middle section and so the gap started to grow, reaching 4 minutes with 95km to go.

 

Oude Kwaremont splits the field

As the peloton hit the Varent cobbles, the fight for position started and so the gap had come down to 2.03 when they exited the pave. The fast pace created a split in the peloton and a second group was at one point 10 seconds behind. However, the two groups merged before they hit the Oude Kwaremont.

 

The four escapees started the climb with an advantage of 1 minute an on the top, it was Gardeyn who won the intermediate sprint ahead of Kerkhof and van Hoecke. However, there advantage had now been reduced to just 38 seconds.

 

A 15-rider group is formed

While van Hoecke was dropped from the front group, the peloton had split over the climb and a small group made it across to the leaders to form a 15-rider front group. With 66km to go, Steve Chainel (Cofidis), Yves Lampaert, Martin Velits, Lukasz Wiśniowski (Etixx-Quick Step), Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix Lille Metropole), Roy Jans, Bjorn Leukemans, Marco Marcato (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing), Tim Kerhof (Team Roompot), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Alistair Slater (An Post-Chain Reaction) and Gorik Gardeyn (Veranlassic Ekoi) were 17 seconds ahead of the peloton.

 

With 55km to go, the gap was still 12 seconds while a second peloton was at 1.30. However, there was no cohesion in the front group with lots of attacks being launched. Van der Sande and he was the first to reach the finish to start the first of their four 9.9km laps, winning the final intermediate sprint in the process.

 

A 5-rider front group

Lampaert and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) were next across the line as they had taken off in pursuit alongside Sander Cordeel (Vastgoedservice) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty). The quartet built an advantage of 40 seconds but at the next passage of the line, they were only 27 seconds ahead.

 

Katusha were leading the chase and they gradually got closer. With 2 laps to go, the gap was only 15 seconds and it seemed that the situation was under control as Maxim Belkov was working hard on the front. At the start of the final lap, however, the gap had gone out to 17 seconds and in the end it was Lampaert who took the win.

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