Sottegem - Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff has won the first stage of the Three
Days of De Panne on Tuesday as he outsprinted Belgian duo Jens
Debuschere and Stijn Devolder at the finish line in Sottegem.
The stage covered 201.6km from De Panne to Sottegem with the race set to finish on Thursday.
It was the sixth win of the season for the 27-year-old Katusha cyclist who also takes the overall leader's jersey.
who came second in the Milan-SanRemo two weeks ago, was in control
during the 13 climbs and cobbled sections of the stage and his win makes
him a serious contender for the Tour of Flanders classic on Sunday.
"I had good legs and I like this kind of course," said Kristoff.
of stages on the Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice this season, Kristoff
formed part of a six-man breakaway that included his compatriot and
teammate Erik Bystrom.
"I owe him (Bystrom) my victory. It's his
first season with the pros and remember his name. He's going to be
good," continued Kristoff.
Windy conditions dominated the stage
with gusts reaching 80kilometres and hour with organisers restricting
the pace of the first 12km of the race along the North Sea.
Leading results from the first stage of the Three Days of La Panne on Tuesday over 202km between La Panne and Sottegem.
Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha), 3hr 59min 31sec, 2. Jens Debusschere
(BEL) same time 3. Stijn Devolder (BEL) s.t., 4. Sean De Bie (BEL) s.t.,
5. Lars Ytting Bak (DEN) s.t., 6. Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR) at 6sec, 7.
Stefan Kng (SUI) 32, 8. Arnaud Demare (FRA) 34, 9. Sacha Modolo (ITA)
34, 10. Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) 34
Kristoff 3hr 59min 21sec, 2. Jens Debusschere (BEL) at 2sec, 3. Stijn
Devolder (BEL) 6, 4. Sean De Bie (BEL) 7, 5. Lars Ytting Bak (DEN) 10,
6. Sven Erik Bystrom (NOR) 16, 7. Stefan Kng (SUI) 42, 8. Arnaud Demare
(FRA) 44, 9. Sacha Modolo (ITA) 44, 10. Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) 44