By Bjorn Haake in Zottegem
The first day in the Three Days of De Panne is often the decisive one with all the hills that also feature in Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Frederik Willems (Liquigas) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) look set to make it a real two-man showdown thanks to their race winning attack. They are both about a minute ahead of third-placed Greg van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto).
The race has three more stages: a road stage today, and a road and a time trial stage on Thursday. The road stages should end in a bunch sprint, but the final 14.75-kilometre time trial stage will decide the race overall.
"We will see, time trialling is not my best discipline," Belgium's Willems told Cyclingnews. He lost the sprint to his Italian escape companion and is four seconds back in the overall classification.
"In the group that is about a minute back, there are some strong time trial riders. I still have to survive two days before that."
Pozzato would like to keep the leader's jersey, but not at all costs. "Sure, we will try to defend the lead, but it's not really that important. For me the important thing is Sunday. If I have the jersey I will defend it, but otherwise I won't."