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Picture gallery: Three Days of De Panne stage 1

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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rides to sign on.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) rides to sign on.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is building form in De Panne.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is building form in De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was already in fine form at the weekend.

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was already in fine form at the weekend.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Dutch champion Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) on the promenade in Middelkerke.

Dutch champion Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) on the promenade in Middelkerke.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) has been aggressive this spring.

Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) has been aggressive this spring.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) will be a threat in the sprints in De Panne.

Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) will be a threat in the sprints in De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) makes his way to sign on.

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) makes his way to sign on.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) rides through the crowds.

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) rides through the crowds.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) will hope experience counts in De Panne.

Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun) will hope experience counts in De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) before the start.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) before the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Katusha) is champion of Belarus.

Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Katusha) is champion of Belarus.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) will have a lot of freedom at De Panne.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) will have a lot of freedom at De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Chris Sutton (Sky) has already had success in Belgium this spring.

Chris Sutton (Sky) has already had success in Belgium this spring.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Russell Downing (Sky) on day one of the Three Days of De Panne.

Russell Downing (Sky) on day one of the Three Days of De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) rocks up to the start.

Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) rocks up to the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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HTC-Highroad had padded handlebar tape to combat the cobbles.

HTC-Highroad had padded handlebar tape to combat the cobbles.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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No deep section wheels for Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) over the cobbles.

No deep section wheels for Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) over the cobbles.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Dominque Rollin (FDJ) in Middelkerke before the start of the Three Days of De Panne.

Dominque Rollin (FDJ) in Middelkerke before the start of the Three Days of De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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William Bonnet (FDJ) at the start of the Three Days of De Panne.

William Bonnet (FDJ) at the start of the Three Days of De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Manuel Quinziato returns from illness to strengthen BMC's classics challenge.

Manuel Quinziato returns from illness to strengthen BMC's classics challenge.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) in Middelkerke.

John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) in Middelkerke.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Irish champion Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) at the start of stage one in Middelkerke.

Irish champion Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad) at the start of stage one in Middelkerke.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jurgen Roelandts and Omega Pharma-Lotto are hoping for a result in De Panne.

Jurgen Roelandts and Omega Pharma-Lotto are hoping for a result in De Panne.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Danilo Honda (Lampre-ISD) in determined mood before the start.

Danilo Honda (Lampre-ISD) in determined mood before the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ) rides to sign on.

Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ) rides to sign on.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)

The Three Days of De Panne got underway in pleasant conditions in Middelkerke on Tuesday. Although there was a slight chill in the North Sea air at the start, the sun was shining and with surprisingly little wind, the peloton should not fragment significantly until it hits the first of the day’s twelve climbs at Edelare.

While a number of Flanders favourites are keeping their powder dry for Sunday, most notably Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and the Garmin-Cervélo squad, there are a number of riders here who are carefully honing their form ahead of De Ronde.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) took his Belgian bow on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem, and he is topping up on his cobbled miles in De Panne. Alessandro Ballan leads the BMC charge, and they have been significantly boosted by the presence of Manuel Quinziato. Peter Sagan and Daniel Oss are part of a formidable Liquigas-Cannondale line-up, while Sylvain Chavanel takes the reins at Quick Step in Boonen’s absence.

While today’s stage seems one for the classics hard men, the sprinters will get a chance to shine later in the week, with Manuel Belletti (Colnago-CSF Inox), Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun), Danilo Hondo (Lampre-ISD), Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad) and André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) among the fast men on show. Meanwhile, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will surely be the favourite for the concluding time trial, and the Englishman appeared in relaxed mood in Middelkerke.