Koen De Kort (Project 1t4i) has hailed his third place finish at Dwars Door Vlaanderen as the best result of his career. The Dutchman finished third behind Omega Pharma-QuickStep duo Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel after an aggressive display on the run-in to the finish at Waregem.
"It's the first time for me on the podium of a pretty big race like this so it feels very special," De Kort told Cyclingnews after descending from the podium. "I felt confident beforehand but I didn't really expect to be top three, even though I knew it was possible. It's definitely the biggest result of my career so far."
With an eight-man break including Terpstra and Chavanel already over a minute up the road as the race entered its decisive phase, De Kort's hopes of a high finish appeared already over, but he succeeded in bridging across with a counter move that also featured Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia).
"We weren't going to be able to wait for very long but I knew that if went on the Kwaremont or just afterwards it would have been possible to bridge across," De Kort said. "That's what we did, on the Paterberg we went across. We had a pretty good group there and when we got to the breakaway."
By that point Terpstra had motored clear alone, but De Kort set about attacking the chase group in a bid to seal a podium place. "It was over for the win, but we were still riding for second and I was fully focused on that," he said.
After a pair of tentative moves, De Kort slipped clear with Chavanel for company, and the French champion collaborated once it became apparent that Terpstra had enough in hand to take the win.
"[Chavanel] kept bridging across and he wouldn't swap a turn, so I was kind of afraid he was going to do that again," De Kort explained. "But when we looked back we had a fair gap and I think he assessed the situation and thought that he might as well ride with me and get second or third, and I'm glad that he did."
Although Chavanel held off De Kort in the sprint for second place, the Dutchman was pleased with a performance and result that augurs well for the coming weeks. Fresh off the back of John Degenkolb's fine 5th place finish at Milan-San Remo, De Kort is looking forward to being in the mix as far as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
"I felt really good already when I helped John in San Remo. He got a great result there and I got 19th myself, so I felt pretty good. All that was missing was a podium result in a big classic. Hopefully I continue this into Flanders and Roubaix."