Gilbert Takes Opening Stage Win At De Panne
Belgian Philippe Gilbert won Tuesday’s opening stage of the final warm-up event ahead of Sunday’s prestigious Tour of Flanders. The 34-year-old Quick Step Floors rider edged out Australia’s Luke Durbridge and Simone Consonni of Italy in a sprint finish at the end of the first stage of Three Days of De Panne.It was the former world champion’s first victory of the season and came after recent near misses on a pair of cobbled classics — Gilbert was second at both E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen last week.
The Ardennes Classics specialist is targeting the cobbled classics this season as he bids to win the ‘Monument’ Tour of Flanders for the first time. A winner of all three Ardennes Classics — Amstel Gold, Fleche Walloons and Liege-Bastogne-Liege — Gilbert’s best previous finish at Flanders was third in 2009 and 2010.