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Kristoff stays perfect at De Panne with stage 3a win

The Norwegian takes a 22-second lead into the final stage, the stage 3b time trial

DE PANNE, Belgium (AFP) — Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) continued his fine form by winning again at the Three Days of De Panne race in Belgium on Thursday.

Kristoff beat German sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in a photo finish at the end of stage 3a after winning the first two stages of the race. Italy’s Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) was third.

“I started my sprint a bit too far [out], just like I did in Milano-Sanremo. There was more head wind than I expected,” Kristoff said in a team release. “Greipel was in my wheel and he almost came around me.

“Three in a row is unique but I don’t think I will make four in a row. There are here better time trial specialists than me.”

It was the eighth win of the season for Kristoff, who now leads the race by 22 seconds over Belgium’s Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing) and 23 seconds over Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) entering the final stage of the race, a 14.2-kilometer time trial around De Panne scheduled for later Thursday.

On his chances at winning the overall, Kristoff said the race is not over yet.

“I need to go full gas … and finish as high as possible in the overall classification,” he said. “In theory, I can lose a lot in 14 kilometers. With a top three on the end podium I will be happy.”