VDK Driedaagse de Panne - Koksijde: Steegmans New GC Leader, Two in Top 5 GC, Three Top 10!
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team set themselves up well for the final day of VDK Driedaagse de Panne - Koksijde. Through challenging, and winning, the intermediate sprints, Gert Steegmans took the GC lead by 1", Niki Terpstra is in 4th (+5"), and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck 7th (+9").
Steegmans won two intermediate sprints, while Terpstra also took 3" for taking a bonification.
Five #OPQS riders, including Andrew Fenn, Julien Vermote, as well as Steegmans, Terpstra, and Van Keirsbulck, bridged to the original breakaway to form an escape group of about 24 riders that would go on to decide the stage. Terpstra — upon taking the final intermediate sprint — went on the attack with 23.2km to go in the stage. Oscar Gatto (Cannondale) stayed on his wheel, and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck bridged to the duo after taking 3rd in the intermediate sprint.
Those three were able to say away until 3km remained thanks to good cooperation and strong legs. The breakaway, which included big name sprinters like Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr), and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), began to fight for sprint position.
It was Modolo who won the stage. Demare was 2nd, and Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) was 3rd.
OPQS worked to put themselves in ideal position for the final day tomorrow. There is a short stage, followed by a time trial later in the day. OPQS has won the overall two years in a row, and both years it was accomplished by a strong final day performance — particularly in the time trial. Niki Terpstra, who was 3rd in 2013 overall, will have his eyes on another good TT performance and GC placing. Steegmans will also be looking to protect his race leadership.