Britain’s Roger Hammond has shown that he is in good form ahead of the spring classics by taking part in an elite breakaway group in the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne in Belgium.

Hammond (Team High Road) bridged the gap with Danilo Napolitano, Bram Tankink and Frederik Willems to lone breakaway rider Wouter Weylandt on the Leberg. The break was later caught by a larger group, but it does show that Hammond is in a position to mix it with the very best.

The stage was eventually won by Italian Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld). Hammond finished in creditable 17th place, 59 seconds adrift of Gasparotto.

Fellow British riders Ian Stannard (Landbouwkrediet) and Mark Cavendish (Team High Road) placed 49th and 140th respectively.

1 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Barloworld 192km in 4-58-00
2 Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua Sapone
3 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas all same time

Roger Hammond goes for it

Admiring the view… hope no one was standing below

Mid-stage crash caused a mess, but no major injuries

Enrico Gasparotto looked aggressive throughout the stage

Enrico Gasparotto takes the stage and race lead

George Hincapie leads the sprints competition. All photos by Luc Claessen/ISPA