The Ronde van Vlaanderen final pre-race, Three Days De Panne (KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde), kicks off today in West Flanders. The three-day, four stage race is typically the final tune-up for riders looking to win Sunday's Ronde.
On tap are four stages that will give the riders plenty of opportunity to test their legs over the Hellingen (Belgian's cobbled climbs). Today the riders will face 192 kilometres of racing from Middelkerke to Zottegem.
Wednesday, from Zottegem to Koksijde, could be the most taxing day; the riders will face 227 kilometres of racing towards the Belgian coast, where they will likely encounter plenty of winds. Thursday, the race will conclude with two stages; stage 3, 119 kilometres around De Panne, and stage 4, an 11 kilometre time trial.
Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) is a clear favourite even though he has never taking the overall win. The Belgian will encounter a tough fight from 2006 winner Leif Hoste of Predictor-Lotto. Other favourites include Filippo Pozzato and Luca Paolini (Liquigas), Tomas Vaitkus and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital), Leon Van Bon (Rabobank) and 2001 winner Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed).
Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé will be in De Panne for daily coverage of this Flemish classic.