Driedaagse De Panne: Mark Cavendish powers to victory in Koksijde headwind
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Driedaagse De Panne: Mark Cavendish powers to victory in Koksijde headwind

by Ben Atkins at 11:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Manx Missile fires despite his team burning out a little too early

mark cavendishMark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) powered to victory in the second stage of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, between Oudenaarde and Koksijde, as the peloton sprinted into a stiff seaside headwind. The Manx Missile just managed to hold off the attentions of Italians Elia Viviani (Cannondale) - on the opposite side of the road - and Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) - beside him - as he powered up the middle of the road, having lost his teammates with around half a kilometre to go.

Former under-23 World champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) was in fourth place and, despite missing out on the time bonuses, took over the race lead after stage one winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was dropped by the peloton in the final ten kilometres.

"I didn't feel that great actually earlier on in the day," Cavendish said. "We talked this morning about doing what we can to dig in for a bunch sprint.

“Halfway through I was like, 'I don't know if I can do it today.'” he continued. “I didn't feel great, but as the finish grew near we just kind of got to the front. It wasn't even spoken about. We were just doing it, like we were going for the sprint. Everyone stayed in the front and as you could see, the last lap was incredibly fast all together. The guys were in great form to not just do fast pulls, but really long pulls as well at the end. That just put me in position for the final corner.

“I wanted to be two or three back out of the last corner and that is exactly where I was,” Cavendish added. “So, I was really, really happy. With one kilometre to go I just sat there waiting, waiting, waiting. I wanted to go at 450 meters really. I felt the sprint going early on my left, so I had to kick out earlier than normal. In a headwind if you kick out too hard you die out and riders come from behind. So I didn't go full gas. I just kept accelerating and accelerating as guys were coming through."

The first long break of the day came from Mattia Pozzo (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Irish champion Matt Brammeier (Champion System), Tim Mertens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Kevin Claeys (Crelan-Euphony) and Niko Eeckhout (An Post-Chainreaction), who escaped in the early kilometres and managed to get six minutes ahead of the peloton. The five riders managed to hold their advantage for some time, but were steadily closed down and caught with 60km to go.

Shortly afterwards there was a counterattack from Koen Barbé (Crelan-Euphony) - who had been in the break the previous day, and was wearing the blue ‘rushes’ jersey - Dmitri Gruzdev (Astana) and Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare). This new group was allowed to get a little over two minutes clear before being gradually reeled in by the sprinters’ teams with eight kilometres to go.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step took the race into the finale but, after big turns from Iljo Keisse and Niki Terpstra, Cavendish found himself alone with 350 metres to go. The former World champion managed to manoeuvre his way through the other sprinters though, and powered his way to victory.

Two breaks get away but can’t deny the sprinters

The second stage followed a meandering northwesterly route via the hill zone around the Kemmelberg, before completing three flat, 11.7km laps around the seaside town of Koksijde. Unlike the previous day, which featured several of the climbs from the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the closing kilometres, stage two was universally expected to finish in a sprint.

There were several attempts to escape the speeding peloton in the opening kilometres, until Pozzo, Brammeier, Mertens, Claeys and Eeckhout finally got away. Once they had escaped though, the five riders were allowed to open up a lead and, after 50km, were six minutes clear.

The gap stayed relatively static for several kilometres, as the five leaders took on the climbs in the midsection, but began to come down as they began to northward journey towards the North Sea coast. With 60km, with the break now less than a minute ahead, Orica-GreenEdge accelerated on the short section of cobbles at Izenberge, and the five riders were caught.

Almost immediately Barbé, Gruzdev and Bazzana escaped and, with the peloton still in no hurry to prepare for the anticipated sprint finish, they were 35 seconds clear at the 50km to go point.

Barbé led the trio across the first ‘rush’ sprint, in Adinkerke with 45.5km to go, to increase his lead in the classification, with the peloton now 1’52” behind; Cannondale was present at the front in numbers, but was spread across the road at a relaxed pace, and the gap to the break continued to rise.

With 40km to go the gap reached 2’11”, before Katusha and Orica-GreenEdge decided to come forward and chase it back. As Barbé led cross the finish line for the first time, with 35.1km to go - taking more points in the rushes classification - it had been cut to 1’21”.

Lotto-Belisol came up to join the chase as the leaders neared the end of the first lap, but there was still no hurry to catch the break; as they crossed the line for the second time - with Barbé in front again - the three riders were still 1’15” clear.

The peloton was accelerating now though, and at the bell, with just 11.7km to go, the gap was down to just 15 seconds. Having taken the points, Barbé sat up and dropped back to the peloton, but the other two persisted with the break.

With eight kilometres to go Bazzana allowed himself to be caught, and Gruzdev was back in the peloton shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, at the back of the peloton, race leader Sagan had been dropped, and was being nursed along by his teammates.

NetApp-Endura was on the front of the peloton, before Omega Pharma-Quick Step moved up in force, with Belgian champion Tom Boonen setting the pace; Boonen handed over to Sylvain Chavanel as they moved into the closing kilometres.

The Belgian team appeared to be getting swamped by the other teams but, with just over two kilometres to go, a massive turn from Iljo Keisse pulled Terpstra and Cavendish off the front, with only Chicchi able to follow. Lotto-Belisol caught them up just before the final corner

Démare was the first to make his move, as the peloton hit the finishing straight with 350 metres to go, and the André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) powered up the middle. The German quickly ran out of steam in the headwind, however, and ground almost to a halt as Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) came past.

At this point though, Cavendish made his own move, with Démare on his wheel and Chicchi at his side; the Manxman looked to be fading a little, but kicked again and held off the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider, who was passed by the accelerating Viviani.

Result stage 2
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
4. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team
6. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel)
7. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
8. Blaz Jarc (Slo) Team NetApp-Endura
9. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Argos-Shimano
10. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise

Standings after stage 2
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team @ 2s
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 5s
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 6s
5. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
7. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida @ 11s
8. Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ @ 14s
9. Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
10. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol


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