Wednesday's sprinter showdown provides a preview of the action expected at Gent-Wevelgem. Groenewegen comes out on top ahead of Gaviria.
Blasting up a gap on the right side of the road, Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) sped past Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) to win Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne Wednesday in Belgium.
The Colombian sprinter ended up second to Groenewegen with 2018 race winner Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) third.
The 200-kilometer WorldTour race was marked by a number of crashes in the final 26km local circuit around De Panne. Mitchelton-Scott’s Luke Durbridge crashed. And then a significant pileup slowed down the peloton with about 11 kilometers remaining. Seven riders hit the pavement in that crash, including Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), and Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal).
Although the chase was momentarily disrupted, the peloton quickly caught the six-rider breakaway from earlier in the race, inside the last 10 kilometers.
“In the technical final it was tough to hold positions, and it was difficult to stay together as a team,” Groenewegen said.
Team Sky put two riders on the front going into the last kilometer of racing, setting up the sprint finish.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step seemed eager to lead-out the sprint for Viviani, who was aiming to defend his title won last year in the midweek one-day race.
Michael Morkov hit the front with his teammate Viviani right on his wheel.
The Danish champion put in a huge effort and pulled aside, but it seemed he left Viviani, the Italian champion in the wind as the sprint developed.
Gaviria blasted up the right side of the road, past Viviani. He had a passenger, though. Groenewegen followed Gaviria’s wheel with a smooth acceleration. Then, with a final kick, Groenewegen surged past along the right barriers, where there was just enough room for him to sprint past.
“We already had to do a sprint before the last corner,” Groenewegen added. “I was a bit boxed-in, but my teammates solved that issue very well. I am happy that I have been able to reward them. This victory feels very good because I have defeated some of the best sprinters here.”
The three top sprinters from Wednesday’s race are expected to face off again on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, also regarded as a sprinters’ classic.