Viviani beats Ackermann to the line in De Panne.
While an early break was caught on the final lap on a finishing circuit around De Panne, BORA – hansgrohe took control of the peloton, trying to force a split in the last crosswind section. The team did well to do some damage, and it was Pascal Ackermann who opened the sprint from a reduced bunch. But the young German had to settle for second, as E. Viviani bettered him to the line.
Formally known as a stage race, the “Driedaags De Panne” becomes a single day race in 2018 for the first time. The 204.2-kilometer-long parkour from Brugge to De Panne was mainly flat. Even though 5 climbs awaited the peloton half way through the race, with a flat run into De Panne and two 25k flat finishing loops, a bunch sprint was expected. Only the wind close to the coast on the last kilometers, was the dark horse that potentially could allow some escapees to take their chances.
The Team Tactics
Already in the last Belgium races Pascal Ackermann presented himself in good shape. Being also one of the fastest riders in the peloton, Ackermann was BORA – hansgrohes’ man for today. The goal was to keep the race under control until the final, where also Pascal had to be aware of possible crosswind sections, to don’t miss any splits. With Schwarzmann, Kolar and Baska, Ackermann had a strong lead-out train to rely on. While Matteo Pelucchi, the other sprinter in BORA – hansgrohes’ rows, was also free to take any chance in a sprint finish.
After the first half hour of racing, a 6-men break went up the road. Little later they already enjoyed a 7-minute lead over the bunch, when entering the first cobble stone section. In the peloton Quickstep took control for their sprinter E. Viviani. Even though some riders attacked in the hilly part of the parkour, the peloton was always in control of the race and the gap dropped to about five minutes. After that part, the wind played a bigger role than expected in the morning. Several times the peloton did split up, but BORA – hansgrohe was always on top of the game, with several riders protecting Pascal Ackermann. Crossing the finish for the first time, the bunch was back together and just 1:20 behind the break anymore. On the final lap BORA – hansgrohe pulled hard to force another split in the bunch, and the break was caught just under 10k to go. While BORA – hansgrohe was riding the last 7 kilometers from the front, Quickstep positioned themselves well under the flame rouge. It was Pascal Ackermann who opened the sprint, but E. Viviani was able to beat him just to the line. Still another promising ride from the team and Pascal.
01 E. Viviani 4:41:08
02 P. Ackermann + 0:00
03 J. Philipsen + 0:00
From the Finish Line
"Big thanks to the whole team for their efforts today. They really supported me with everything they had, and in the end, it was my turn to finish this off. I am happy with my result, even my timing was maybe not 100%. We can be proud how we presented us as a team on the final lap I think. Of course, it’s about winning, but Viviani is one of the top guys. I had already plenty of good results this season, and if I am able to hold my level, also the first victory will come.” – Pascal Ackermann
"It was a little more wind than we expected this morning, which made the race nervous already with 80k to go. But our guys did a really good job to always be up front when there was some action. We agreed this morning in our meeting that we want to act in the final, and therefore, on the last lap we tried something in the crosswinds, which did some damage, but maybe not enough. From there on the boys stayed in control, but maybe we missed one guy on the final kilometer. Still, I am proud how we presented our colors today and I am happy with the performance of every single guy. Even if there was a chance to beat Viviani today." – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director