By Nigel Wynn
British rider Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) made a podium appearance at the Nokere Koerse race in Belgium on Wednesday, placing third behind winner Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal).
Thwaites contested the bunch sprint on the tough cobbled climb at the end of the 197.7-kilometre UCI 1.1-ranked race in Nokereberg. Belgian Boeckmans finished a few bike lengths clear of the pack, with Frenchman Justin Jules (Veranclassic-Ekoi) in second. Thwaites' team-mate Phil Bauhaus placed fourth.
It's a good sign of form for 25-year-old Yorkshireman Thwaites heading into the classics season, and comes after two consecutive fifth places at last Saturday's Ronde van Drenthe and Sunday's Dwars door Drenthe.
Bora-Argon 18 sports director Andre Schulze explained that it was the team's intention to ride for Thwaites in the Nokere Koerse: "That’s a great result for Scott, Phil and the entire team. The race was fast but controlled and so it became clear that we’d see a bunch sprint.
"We focused completely on the sprint and we didn’t want to waste any energy in attacks. Our tactic was to lead-out the sprint for Scott because this kind of finish - slightly uphill and with cobblestones - suits him.
"Phil’s duty was to back up Scott’s rear wheel and to look for his own chance when possible. That turned out perfectly and the guys presented themselves excellently in the final kilometres. With a metres to go I knew already that we’d score a top result today because the guys rode so strongly."
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