Vliegen Takes KOM Jersey in Tough Start to Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde29. March 2016, Zottegem (BEL) — Road Team
It was a tough opening stage to Driedaagse de Panne-Koksijde which saw Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) take the win in a battle with Lieuwe Westra and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
A reduced peloton, including Stefan Küng, Dylan Teuns, Loïc Vliegen and Rick Zabel, crossed the line 36 seconds behind Kristoff.
After a solid ride, Loïc Vliegen goes into Stage 2 with the King of the Mountains jersey. Vliegen sported two black armbands today, one for Antoine Demoitié and one for Daan Myngheer, and vowed to ride in memory of his two friends.
“This day was a really difficult day for me because I lost two friends yesterday so I wanted to do something for them. From the kilometer 0, I was in the front group and I thought that the best thing that I could do was take the KOM jersey and I did. So I’m really happy to have taken it for them,” Vliegen said after the stage.
“I was feeling really good today and my form is good. It was a really cold stage so I didn’t eat or drink too much, so in the end I was feeling it. But the form is good so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
A breakaway of 17 riders formed mid-race, including Tom Bohli, Taylor Phinney, Loïc Vliegen and Rick Zabel. It was from this group that Kristoff, Westra and Lutsenko managed to attack and establish a gap.
“The team moved in a fantastic way. In the first 40 kilometers there were echelons everywhere but we had all but one of our guys in the front group,” Sports Director Max Sciandri said.
“I think everyone did a great job. We don’t always look at the final result. Obviously we are here to win races but a race like this is a learning process, especially for these young guys, so I’m really happy with the way they worked and moved together as a team.”
Stage 2 tomorrow sees the peloton ride 211.1km from Zottegem to Koksijde.
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