No reward for aggressive Quick Step in first De Panne stage
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No reward for aggressive Quick Step in first De Panne stage

by Ben Atkins at 7:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Belgian team got nothing today but form bodes well for Sunday’s Ronde

gert steegmansDespite Gert Steegmans and Sylvain Chavanel being two of the most aggressive riders in today’s first stage of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, their Quick Step team came away with nothing. Both riders missed out on the four-man break that just held on to contest the victory, with Gerald Ciolek the Belgian team’s best finisher, in 25th place.

Chavanel seemed irrepressible in the latter stages of the race, dragging a group of riders along for a number of kilometres in pursuit of the leading quartet. With too many passengers in the group though, coupled with the increased pace of the peloton as the sprinters’ teams came forward, saw him eventually caught.

Even then the Frenchman refused to lay down, jumping away with Cofidis’ Romain Zingle in the closing kilometres, but it was not to be his day.

“The guys tried to shake up the race a bit," said sports director Tom Steels. “It's a shame that Chavanel didn't get the proper collaboration when he attacked. It would have been important to earn a few seconds for the overall standings compared to the best time trial men.

“In any case, the team worked well, especially Steegmans and Chavanel.”

Steegmans managed to bridge across to the lead group inside the last 40km, with the stage’s eventual second place Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), but paid for his efforts later on. The fact that the stage came just one day after he played a major part in Tom Boonen’s Gent-Wevelgem victory also played its part.

"I think I performed well,” said Steegmans after the stage. “I managed to get away from the group and make it to the head of the race in a few kilometres. Clearly I paid a price for the effort and fatigue in Sunday's race. However I'm happy with my race as it pertains to the Ronde. We'll see how it goes these next few days."

As Steegmans alludes to however, the big prize for Quick Step comes on Sunday with the Ronde van Vlaanderen. If the blue and white team can deliver its talisman Boonen to victory in Meerbeke then the training kilometres they put in at De Panne-Koksijde will be counted well worthwhile.


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