By Bjorn Haake in Koksijde
German Paul Voss did not expect his first ProTour season with Team Milram to begin with him as the team's top finisher at the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. The cyclo-cross specialist explained to Cyclingnews that his preparation for the season was filled with setbacks. He was surprised to make the race's stage one breakaway and sit as high as sixth on the general classification.
"This is only my fifth race of the season. I was sick before, so I didn't expect to be going well like this."
Voss made the winning group of 29 riders in the first stage of the Belgian race, taking a one-second time bonus to move higher up in the overall classification. While he fell to 18th overall by the final stage on Thursday, he was still his team's top finisher despite having a reduced training schedule over the winter.
"I raced 'cross in the winter. After that I got sick several times. Every time I was getting better I raced, then I fell sick again."
Voss credited his result to previous experience racing on the Belgian roads with his previous team. "I was lucky that with my former team Lamonta we raced a lot here." That background helped him to deal with the high speeds and aggressive racing which is standard in this part of the world, and get into that critical first stage breakaway.
"We covered 50 kilometres in the first hour. There were constant attacks," he said of that stage. "It was better once we had the group together."