The 25-year-old formed part of the winning break en route to Zottegem but was beaten to the line by Alexander Kristoff’s superior sprinting on a stage shortened due to high winds.
“Today was really hard with the wind. I wanted to be in the small group in order to stay safe and everything looked good until Kristoff came across to our move. Then I knew that the win wasn’t going to happen today. I tried but I obviously didn’t succeed,” Debusschere told Cyclingnews as he made his way to the team bus.
The Roselare-born rider has a string of consistent performances already under his belt this season with 12th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 7th in Kuurne, 5th in Gent-Wevelgem and of course a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico to mark his first victory at WorldTour level.
“I’m actually really happy with my form and the results I’m getting at the moment. I’ve missed out on the victory today and it’s sad when it happens but as I showed on Sunday in Gent-Wevelgem I’m in good condition and I’ll take that into the next few days and then Flanders.”
Lotto posted three men in the top five in today’s stage and two in the top seven at Gent-Wevelgem - signs that the Belgian outfit are finding their stride just at the right time. They still sit behind squads such as Etixx-Quick Step, Team Sky, BMC and Katusha in terms of wins this year but in Jürgen Roelandts and Debusschere they have two potential candidates for the podium in the Tour of Flanders.
Roelandts, who skipped De Panne, went on the attack in Gent-Wevelgem and looks back to somewhere near his best form after spells of crashes and injuries.
“We’ll all work for Roelandts and he’s proven in the past what he can do in the Tour of Flanders,” Debusschere told Cyclingnews. “We’ll do everything to support him and I hope that I can be with him for the final and help with as much as possible.”
Debusschere still has time to develop as a Classics rider in his own right but he has the pedigree to improve in the coming years. Still just 25, he is a former winner of the junior Tour of Flanders and was second in the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix in 2010. However having finished his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana in 2014, he’s finally starting to shine in Belgian’s toughest Classics.
“I hope that one day I can be as good and as fast as Alexander Kristoff. Maybe I have to try improve my sprint but I’ll never move away from the Classics because every year I want to perform well here.”
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