peloton / Yuzuru Sunada

Belgium’s Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, riding for the Omega Pharma team, won the Three Days of La Panne on Thursday after making up a 20-second deficit on the final day’s time trial.

“I’m super happy,” Van Keirsbulck said. “It’s something unexpected. In the team we had really strong riders like Steegmans and Terpstra, so I wasn’t really thinking about the classification. But today I said to myself to try 100 percent and see what could have happened. At the end of the race I was at the team bus and they called me to go to the podium. It was a great feeling. Rik van Slycke really pushed me a lot during the race. He told me that I was fighting for the GC, so I really gave everything. I’m super happy, really. I rode Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, It wasn’t in my schedule originally, but now I’m happy to have done it. It gave me a good feeling on my condition and the right race rhythm. I can consider this the most important victory of my career. I think that I developed the base for this season starting last year at La Vuelta. That was my first big tour. Since that moment I feel stronger, even if I know that I have to work really hard to even improve. I also solved my problem with the back that was present during my winter training. Now I’m happy and I can enjoy this moment.”

Van Keirsbulck was fifth on the last stage, won by Maciej Bodnar of Cannondale, raced over 14km. Bodnar finished ahead of Jan Barta of the Czech Republic and David Boucher of Belgium.

“I’m really proud of this victory and also a little surprised,” said Bodnar. “For a rider like me it’s not usual to stay on the highest stage of the podium, and when happens it’s always awesome. We’re in Belgium to help Sagan, and we’re happy to do this, but in De Panne we had a chance to search some personal glory and I took it. Doing a good performance was my aim since the beginning of the race. I had really good feeling since the first moment of today’s stage. And when you feel your legs pushing hard, you become more and more confident. This win is also the result hard work on this speciality. You can’t invent something out of nothing. I’ve been working since the winter with our coaches, doing dedicated training and working on positioning and aerodynamics. This is the outcome.”

Van Keirsbulck had started the final day in sixth place, 20 seconds behind overnight leader Gert Steegmans. In the overall standings, Van Keirsbulck finished ahead of Australia’s Luke Durbridge and Steegmans.

Final General Classification
1. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 11:38:16
2. Luke Durbridge (Aus/Orica-GreenEdge) @ :07
3. Gert Steegmans (Bel/Omega Pharma-Quick Step) @ :08
4. Niki Terpstra (Ned/Omega Pharma-Quick Step) @ :15
5. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Giant-Shimano) @ :21
6. Vincent Jerome (Fra/Europcar) @ :25
7. Mauro Finetto (Ita/Neri Sottoli) @ :27
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) @ :32
9. Rob Ruijgh (Ned/Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace) @ :33
10. Alexander Porsev (Rus/Katusha) @ s.t.