Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) sealed overall victory in the Three Days of De Panne as Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) took a narrow victory on the final time trial stage.
Holding a 50 second lead over Matthias Brändle (Trek-Segafredo) going into stage 3b’s 14.2km time trial, Gilbert was always favourite to confirm his overall victory, in the end conceding only 12 seconds to the former Hour Record holder.
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The first rider to go under 18-and-a-half minutes on the 14.2km course was Olivier Pardini (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) who took over the lead from team-mate Alex Kirsch, but Pardini’s lead didn’t last for long as Aqua Blue Sport’s Peter Koning went three seconds faster with a time of 18-14.
Koning’s time stood for a while, but fell to a spectacular ride from the winner of the morning’s sprint stage, Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) who went 33 seconds faster.
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For a while it seemed as if Kittel, a former junior world time trial champion, might take his second stage win of the day, but the in-form Durbridge produced what would turn out to be the fastest time of the day with a 17-38, three seconds faster than the German.
On a course that always produces tight finishes, Durbridge’s time was seriously threatened by Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) who came home just 0.77 seconds in arrears to take second on the day.
The last few riders were also battling for overall victory, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) putting in an impressive effort to finish third.
However no one was able to threaten Gilbert’s overall lead, with the Belgian road champion safely crossing the line in seventh place to win the race overall by 38 seconds.
Three Days of De Panne 2017, stage 3b: De Panne – De Panne, ITT (14.2km)
1. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott, in 17-38
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie, at same time
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin, at 2 secs
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, at 3 secs
5. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 5 secs
6. Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott, at 9 secs
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 17 secs
8. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 31 secs
9. Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport, at 36 secs
10. Olivier Pardini (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect, at 39 secs
Final general classification
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, in 12-08-57
2. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo, at 38 secs
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin, at 43 secs
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie, at 58 secs
5. Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo-Vital Concept, at 1-39
6. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect, at 1-50
7. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-54
8. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot–Nederlandse Loterij, at 2-10
9. Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 2-24
10. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 2-46