Brussels - Belgian
Philippe Gilbert took a solo victory in Tuesday's opening stage of the
final warm-up event ahead of Sunday's prestigious Tour of Flanders.
The 34-year-old Quick Step Floors rider finished 17 seconds ahead of
Australia's Luke Durbridge with Simone Consonni of Italy another 17
seconds further back in third at the end of the 205km first stage of
Three Days of De Panne.
It was the former world champion's first victory of the season and
came after recent near misses on a pair of cobbled classics - Gilbert
was second at both E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen last week.
The Ardennes Classics specialist is targeting the cobbled classics
this season as he bids to win the 'Monument' Tour of Flanders for the
A winner of all three Ardennes Classics - Amstel Gold, Fleche
Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege - Gilbert's best previous finish at
Flanders was third in 2009 and 2010.
He made his winning move on the Mur de Grammont climb 16km from the finish and never looked back.
Wednesday's second stage is a hilly 193km ride from Zottegem to Coxyde.
Results from the 205km opening stage of Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday:
1. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/Quick Step Floors) 4hr 36min 23sec,
2. Luke Durbridge (AUS) at 17sec, 3. Simone Consonni (ITA) 34, 4. Jasper
De Buyst (BEL) same time, 5. Mathias Brandle (AUT) s.t., 6. Frederik
Backaert (BEL) 53, 7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) 58, 8. Edward Theunsz
(BEL) s.t., 9. Marco Canola (ITA) s.t., 10. Sacha Modolo (ITA) s.t.
1. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/Quick Step Floors) 4hr 36min 18sec, 2. Luke
Durbridge (AUS) 22, 3. Simone Consonni (ITA) 43, 4. Mathias Brandle
(AUT) à s.t., 5. Jasper De Buyst (BEL) 47, 6. Frederik Backaert (BEL)
1:06, 7. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) 1:11, 8. Edward Theunsz (BEL) s.t., 9.
Marco Canola (ITA) s.t., 10. Sacha Modolo (ITA) s.t.