Our team has always enjoyed racing here. Back in the day when it used to be a three-day stage race, the Wolfpack took the spoils on four occasions with three different riders. Then, after it morphed into a one-day event in 2018, three more victories followed, the most recent of these being recorded last year.

A messy sprint in Classic Brugge-De Panne

The eighth World Tour race of the season, Classic Brugge-De Panne took in a 207.9km flat course that suited perfectly to the sprinters, even more so than in the past, as the crosswinds were completely absent from the De Moeren area.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl took over the reins at the head of the peloton soon after the start, Iljo Keisse putting in a massive effort to control the four-man breakaway and eat into its advantage, which at one point reached six minutes. With 30 kilometers to go, the quartet were reeled in, leaving the favourites plenty of time to prepare for the business end of the one-day race.

By its nature, the finish of De Panne is always chaotic, but this time a crash just two kilometers from the line made things even more complicated, splitting the field and leaving many riders scrambling to get back, while at the same time disrupting the sprinters’ trains. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl tried to deliver Mark Cavendish in a good position on the finishing stretch, but due to the crash, the Manxman was too many places further down the group and boxed in, and couldn’t make up the lost ground in the fast and furious closing meters.

World and Olympic Champion Michael Mørkøv took on sprint duties and came close to what would have been a well-deserved top 10, concluding the World Tour race in 12th place.

“We didn’t win today, which is a bit disappointing, but we have to move on. At the end of the day, we wanted the victory and everybody showed they were in good shape, but it just didn’t happen. Now we have to look ahead to our next goals and remain healthy for the upcoming races”, said sports director Tom Steels.

 

Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images

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