Luca Paolini of Liquigas gave himself a huge confidence boost for the coming races by winning Three Days of De Panne stage 1. The 30 year-old rider from Milan took victory in Zottegem and moved into the overall lead in the process.
Yesterday, clad in the white leader's jersey, he placed sixth in the sprint, preferring not to risk himself in light of Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen. He thinks he will have one more chance in De Panne but he is still undecided on the overall.
"I have the leader's jersey and so I flung myself up in the sprint, but without risking myself," he noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Paolini currently leads the race by nine seconds over Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) after two stages of racing.
"In stage three, the first semi-stage, I might be able to get a result, then I will decide what to do for the time trial [afternoon stage]."
One thing is certain, Flanders has given him the edge to co-captain the team, with Filippo Pozzato, in De Ronde. "I have faith for Flanders. The legs are there."