Middelkerke – Zottegem 2009:Stage 1. Pozzato again
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is on a roll, taking stage one of the Driedaagse De Panne just three days after winning the E3 Prijs. Pozzato easily dispatched Frederik Willems (Liquigas) in the downhill two-up sprint and took over the lead in the overall classification.
Pozzato was quite impressive on the short and steep climbs, especially the Berendries and the Valkenberg. “The victory on Saturday certainly has given me morale.” But whether he will go all out in the time trial to win the overall remains to be seen. “If I have the lead, I will try to defend it, but if I don’t have the jersey, I won’t go for it in the time trial.”
Pozzato has only one thing on his mind right now, the Tour of Flanders. “This is De Panne, but Sunday is really important for me.”
Willems took the initiative in the end. “I tried to accelerate with about 200m to go, in the turn, but he [Pozzato] was too strong and too fast. I knew I was beaten right away…” Willems didn’t want to blame the position. “I was in the front, but
is like a derny at the moment.”
Willems, however, was pleased with his race, first bridging solo from the chase group he was in and then launching the decisive attack just before the Valkenberg. “In the beginning I was in the [Tom] Boonen group and too far back. I knew I had to get to the front group, as Boonen and [Kevin] van Impe were the only ones driving. They came close, but not really fast enough, so I jumped.”
His decisive attack came with a little more than 20 km left to race. “In the end I tried again; I was good today, but in the end I was also tired…”