The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team continued its European campaign with Driedaagse De Panne. Formerly known as “Three Days of De Panne,” this year’s race was shortened from a three-day, four stage race to a one-day, 1.HC category race due to scheduling. In doing so, it made room for a Women’s WorldTour one day race (which we applaud). The 202.4 km men’s race started in Bruges and finished in De Panne, intermixing more cobbled sections and climbs as the team has become accustomed to in the last two weeks.
After getting underway, a few attacks tested the peloton’s patience, but no breakaway formed. It was at the 25 km mark that a six-man breakaway, including Sean Bennett and program alumnus Tanner Putt, made its move and escaped the group.
The five climbs coming in the middle part of the race proved mostly uneventful for the breakaway, but for the peloton, it signaled the start of working together to bring back the riders that managed to escape early on in the race. At one point the gap was 9:00, but with 50 km remaining, the gap was only 1:30.
With 6 km remaining until the finish, Bennett and Brian van Goethem (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) were doing their best to to hang onto their shrinking advantage, but the charging peloton was too much for the last two riders of the breakaway that had gone off the front early on in the day.
“The plan today was to have somebody in the break and Sean did a perfect job,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “We suspected a sprint at the end and if so, we’d make an effort to set Jasper up for a shot.”
Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Quick-Step led what remained of the peloton toward the finish. Jasper Philipsen positioned himself well and patiently waited for an opening. The few riders in front of him made their move and he started his sprint. Philipsen held a leftward line and vaulted to the finish for third place and a spot on the podium. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) managed to outsprint Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) for the victory.
“It was pretty hectic in the final,” said Philipsen. “I was fighting for positioning and couldn’t start my sprint until pretty late because I was closed in. It feels super nice to get a podium for the team in this level of pro races.”
“It was difficult staying together as a team heading toward the finish with the crosswinds and narrow roads, but the guys did great and Jasper was really impressive to get third,” remarked Moerenhout.
Rui Oliveira finished 45th, Sean Bennett 57th, Michael Rice 64th, Ian Garrison was 70th, Joao Almeida 119th, and Ivo Oliveira 122nd.
The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team is back in action at the San Dimas Stage Race in San Dimas, California, this Friday. It will be the first time racing in the U.S. for the team this year.
Photo: Davey Wilson