Bernhard Eisel (Team High Road) is transforming himself from a sprinter to a Classics specialist. After finishing sixth in the E3 Prijs on Saturday, the Team High Road rider finished fifth in the first stage of the Driedaagse De Panne. The Austrian had hoped to finish higher, but the earlier race had taken too much out of him.
"Actually, I wanted to take it a little easier this week after the harder days earlier," he said. "But that didn't work out."
With about 25 kilometres to go, Eisel attacked out of the following group and caught up with the four leaders. "But I had to fall back on the third-to-last climb," he recalled.
Eisel fell back into a group with seven other riders that couldn't catch the leaders. One of the others in the group, Baden Cooke (Barloworld), didn't do any of the lead work as he had team-mate Enrico Gasparotto in the front, and Eisel was tired from his earlier efforts. "But in the final sprint I surprised my colleagues: I attacked, let Cooke counter it, threw myself behind him and then just went right on by him.
"My form is really remarkable," he admitted. "But I still had the E3 Prijs from last week in my bones. Of all the riders who were in the front on Saturday, I was the best today."