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"But it’s a fact that we cannot just wait for  a sprint, but will have to make the race hard. Etixx - Quick-Step is the team to beat and a number of other teams have riders who hope to take their chance in the time trial."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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BORIS VALLÉE

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DRIEDAAGSE DE PANNE

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JENS DEBUSSCHERE

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KRIS BOECKMANS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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PIM LIGTHART

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SEAN DE BIE

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30.03.2015 @ 17:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Between March 31 and April 2, the 39th edition of the Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde, a Belgian Europe Tour stage race, takes place. The riders have to get over several hills in the Flemish Ardennes and Heuvelland.

 

In the first stage, 200 kilometres long, the peloton will head from De Panne to Zottegem. There are thirteen climbs to cover. After the first hundred kilometres the riders start the first of two local laps of 44.5 kilometres. In this lap the riders have to race over the cobbles of the Haaghoek and get past the Leberg, Berendries, Valkenberg, Eikenmolen and the uphill Klemhout Street. Then there are four flat kilometres left before the finish.

 

On day two there’s a stage of 217 kilometres. This time the riders go from Zottegem to Koksijde. Also this stage they’ll have to climb some tough hills. The Mesenberg, Monteberg, Kemmelberg, Rodeberg and Vidaigneberg will cause several riders to lose contact.

 

The last day consists of two stages. In the morning there’s a flat stage of about 111 kilometres with start and finish in De Panne. This is an opportunity for the sprint teams. The second stage is an individual time trial of fourteen kilometres. Also this one takes place in and around De Panne.

 

Lotto Soudal takes the start with among others André Greipel, Kris Boeckmans and Jens Debusschere. Last year’s winner Guillaume Van Keirsbulck is one of the participants as well. Other names are Stijn Devolder, Luke Durbridge and Bradley Wiggins. There are several sprinters, like Arnaud Démare, Alexander Kristoff, Sacha Modolo and Elia Viviani. Lotto Soudal sports director Bart Leysen gives his preview of the race.

 

“I expect the wind to be an important factor the next few days, just like in Ghent-Wevelgem," he said. "According to the weather forecast  the riders will have tailwind in the first stage, so there’s a big chance of echelons. Together with the number of hills in the Flemish Ardennes in the second part of the stage, I think a limited group of riders will contest the stage win, which has its consequences for the number of riders that can win the overall classification.

 

“On day two we go back to the coast, probably with a headwind, with few hills in Heuvelland, and thus maybe a bigger chance of a sprint with a larger group, although this also depends on the team of the leader after day one. With Boeckmans, Debusschere and Greipel we have several fast and experienced riders, so we have different options. But it’s a fact that we cannot just wait for  a sprint, but will have to make the race hard. Etixx – Quick-Step is the team to beat and a number of other teams have riders who hope to take their chance in the time trial."

 

Selection Lotto Soudal: 

Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart and Boris Vallée.

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