By Bjorn Haake
Kevin van Impe profited from a strong team performance of his Quick Step outfit to beat former winner Niko Eeckhout (An Post Sean Kelly) in a two-up sprint at Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen. Eeckhout led out the sprint but had nothing left after being in the break of the day. A dozen seconds later Tom Boonen easily outsprinted an exhausted Heinrich Haussler for third. Haussler had animated the latter part of the race and his solo break forced a Quick Step team time trial to reel him back in.
A crash in the peloton, less than two minutes behind, brought down several riders, including Belgian champion Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) and Andreas Klier (Cervélo Test Team).
With three men in the five-man break, Quick Step looked set for an easy win, but Haussler made it tough for the three Belgians Van Impe, Boonen and Stijn Devolder. When Haussler reeled back in a counter attack by Devolder, Van Impe went and drew Eeckhout with him. That put Haussler out of the game, but the experienced Eeckhout in the front was not necessarily good news for Quick Step.
Van Impe acknowledged that there was some pressure on him. "I wasn't sure I could beat him [Eeckhout], he is a fast man. But with the conditions like today, with the rain and the wind, things are a little different." Van Impe crossed the line with a big grin on his face, then buried his head in disbelief. "This is indescribable. My teammates kept Haussler in check behind. I have to thank Stijn and Tom for giving me this chance."
Van Impe added that Saturday at the E3 Prijs things will be different. "That's another level, there will be another name on the winner's board, but our team is very strong."
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