Daniel Oss and his Liquigas-Cannondale team were to the fore in the finale of stage two of the Three Days of De Panne as they fought to set up Peter Sagan for the sprint. While Sagan would ultimately have to settle for third place, Oss was nonetheless pleased with his own form and that of his young teammate ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
After stage one had failed to break up the race as anticipated, the seemingly more straightforward second leg saw a number of riders eliminated from overall contention on the short series of hellingen that punctuated the middle section of the stage. On crossing the finish line, Oss explained that the wind had helped to split the field.
“Yesterday was also hard, as it was fast, but there wasn’t a lot of wind so people could hold the wheels, plus on the first day people have a lot more energy,” Oss told Cyclingnews in Koksijde. “Today there was more wind and it was more of a battle on the few muri that there were on the stage, although at the same time we came to the finish in quite a big group.”
Liquigas-Cannondale joined in HTC-Highroad’s efforts to bring back the three rider break that animated the closing 50km, as they sought to propel Peter Sagan to stage victory.
“We were working to bring Peter to the finish in the sprint, and he got a decent third place,” Oss said. “Above all he’s going well, so we’re hopeful for Sunday.”
In spite of crashing during the team time trial at last week’s Settimana Coppi e Bartali, Oss was prominent at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, although he explained that he was still building form at De Panne.
“I had some problems, with the flu and then that crash, but we’re beginning to see that change now, and the form is starting to come back,” Oss said. “I was struggling, I was a little behind with my preparation and I’m putting everything into catching up.”
While Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen are among the big names who could afford to forgo the Three Days of De Panne ahead of the Tour of Flanders, the 24-year-old Oss recognises that he is still learning his craft on the cobbles.
“It’s been good as a way of getting in some training that I wouldn’t be able to do at home and as a way of finding my form,” he said. “It’s also helpful to get used to these roads again and to riding in the peloton on the pavé.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, Oss reckons that while his team is lacking in experience, they will certainly look to compensate with their enthusiasm, with Peter Sagan expected to provide an intriguing cameo.
“The team is very motivated and there’s Peter who is going well,” he said. “We have a very young team but we’ll be looking to do a fine race.”