Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted comfortably to victory in the 2019 Three Days of De Panne, beating Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) to the line.
Defending champion Viviani had been the rider ideally dropped off by his final lead-out man Michael Mørkøv with 100m to go, launching his sprint to the left of the road.
It was Gaviria who countered first to the right of the road, but neither of them could do anything to stop the powerful Groenewegen from squeezing between Gaviria and the barriers on the right to sprint easily to the win.
It’s the Dutchman’s fifth win of the season having sprinted to wins in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Volta ao Algarve and two stages of Paris-Nice already this year.
How it happened
Riders lined up in Brugges on Wednesday morning for the second edition of the Three Days of De Panne in its new one-day format.
The Belgian WorldTour race looked almost certain to end in a bunch finish, with the five climbs including the Kemmelberg coming over 100km from the flat finish in De Panne.
An early break of six riders – Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Stan Dewulf (Lotto-Soudal), Jimmy Janssens (Corendon Circus), Senne Leysen (Roompot Charles), Adrien Garel (Vital Concept – B&B Hotels) and Mathijs Paasschens (Wallonie-Bruxelles) – got up the road, gaining a maximum gap of just under five minutes.
The next major action came on the cobbled climb of the Kemmelberg with just under 120km to go, with Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafred), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Danny Van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) breaking clear of the peloton.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step were the main team to begin the chase, but that group did well to establish a gap of around a minute and hold it for some time. The flat route however played into the hands of the peloton, and that escape was brought back with around 70km remaining.
The day’s early break continued on though and held 2-40 with 50km to go.
It was down to just 1-08 as they crossed the finish line for a final 25km lap, with it dropping to 15 seconds with 12km to go as the peloton closed in.
A crash in the peloton in the final 12km took out a contender for the win in Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), as well as the likes of Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), and Chris Lawless (Team Sky).
It didn’t give the breakaway much benefit however, and they were finally brought back with just 9km until the finish in De Panne.
Quick-Step led the peloton with CCC into final 5km, but it was Sky who were best placed on the front on the final turns into the finishing straight.
Michael Mørkøv was able to manoeuvre to the front to drop off Viviani with 100m to go, but there was nothing the Italian champion could do to match the speed of Groenewegen and prevent him from taking the victory.
Three Days of De Panne 2019: Brugges to De Panne (200.3km)
1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-25-45
2 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
5 Justin Jules (Fra) Wallonie Bruxelles
6 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
7 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
8 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
9 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
10 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time