By Andrew Hood
Dutch flier Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) pulled the double in Thursday’s time trial finale at the Three Days of De Panne to claim the stage and the overall crown in one hard effort.
Posthuma had just enough in the tank to erase a 27-second gap to overnight leader Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) to vault from eighth to the top spot on the podium.
“I thought making up 27 seconds in 14 kilometers would be impossible. That’s like two seconds a kilometer but I did it,” Posthuma said. “When they told my split times, I started to believe and I went as hard as I could. I’ve worked hard over the winter to improve in time trials and today was the fruit of my labor.”
Posthuma, 27, claims victory just two seconds ahead of Manuel Quinziato (Lampre), who started the afternoon race against the clock in second place at five seconds behind Gasparotto, who slipped to third at eight seconds adrift.
George Hincapie (High Road) revealed he’s on good form going into this weekend’s Tour of Flanders by taking fourth at 19 seconds off the winning pace. Hincapie, who became the first American to win De Panne in 2004, moved up to ninth overall at 59 seconds back.
Defending champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) settled into seventh overall at 43 seconds back.
Magnus Backstedt (Slipstream-Chipotle) ended a strong week by stopping the clock 15 seconds slower to claim second and bounce from 19th to eighth overall. Slipstream’s Tyler Farrar ended up 16th overall at 1:29 back.
Earlier in the day, Mark Cavendish (High Road) out-kicked Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) to win the 119km morning sector to win a sprint for the second day in a row.