Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) took an impressive victory in stage 3a of the Three Days of De Panne after crashing with 15km remaining.
The German sprinter had finished fourth behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) on yesterday’s stage, but was able to beat the Norwegian rider today, having his team-mates to thank for a hard chase to regain contact with the front group he was caught up in a late crash.
That crash was one of a number that caused chaos in the peloton in the final 20km of the race, as riders found themselves having to bunny hop over tramlines running along the road.
Watch: Tour of Flanders essential guide
Their injection of pace meant the five-strong break was finally caught with 2.5km remaining, but by that point Kittel had been able to regain contact with the main group thanks to hard work from his team-mates.
Despite some narrow roads in the final few kilometres, Kittel was able to find his way to the front of the peloton, positioning himself just off the wheel of Kristoff, before coming around his rival to win by more than a bike length.
The Three Days of De Panne concludes this afternoon with a 14.2km individual time trial.
Three Days of De Panne 2017, stage 3a: De Panne – De Panne (118.5km)
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, in 2-37-29
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
4. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
9. Jelle Mannaerts (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
10. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, all at same time
General classification after stage 3a
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, in 11-51-02
2. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 50 secs
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin, at 58 secs
4. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-06
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie, at 1-15
6. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot–Nederlandse Loterij, at 1-15
7. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect, at 1-17
8. Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, at 1-17
9. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-22
10. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 2-20