Sam Bennett wins Classic Brugge-De Panne

After a pair of stage wins in the UAE Tour and Paris-Nice, Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) put his sprinting prowess on display in De Panne to claim his first one-day victory of the season in the Classic Brugge-De Panne.

The Irishman blasted past Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) unable to make up any ground in the fast final 200m and settling for third.

The victory was Bennett's first in a one-day WorldTour race, although he has some 50 wins on his palmares, and Deceuninck-QuickStep's second Classic of the season after Davide Ballerini won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

"It's super important to get this win," Bennett said. "Being in a Belgian team with Belgian sponsors, we want to perform on home soil. For myself, personally, it's my first one-day WorldTour race - something I've been chasing for many years and I'm happy to get it here today."

French champion Arnaud Démare, perhaps the only sprinter capable of challenging Bennett in such a fast finish, suffered a mechanical just as he launched his sprint and, despite being in a good position before the sprint started, finished outside the top 10.

Bennett explained that he did not immediately follow Philipsen's early sprint. "He jumped early but I could feel there was a bit of a headwind so I decided to wait longer and then go," Bennett said. "I don't focus on anybody else around me, I was just doing my own sprint."

The Irishman was somewhat critical of the technical nature of the final kilometres, which were full of sharp turns including one with only 800m to go. Rather than be at the head of the bunch, Bennett was tucked in with his teammates until the final kilometre when Michael Mørkøv brought him to the front.

"I was a little bit nervous, there was too many yellow poles and brick walls and footsteps coming up for a bunch sprint like that. It's an important race and everyone wants to be there. You have a lot of riders under pressure and we all want to get a result - you don't need that in the final. It was a good day and a great race today."

How it unfolded

It was a sunny start for the 2021 Brugge-De Panne with French champion Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Tour de France green jersey winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) given front row honours at 't Zand square on the edge of the historic city centre. Riders took a 5.2km neutral rollout before the flag dropped along the Torhoutsesteenweg to start the 203.9km race aiming for a piece of the €41,000 prize list.

With only a light breeze coming from the west, the first 20km went off at a brisk pace with a few attacks unable to go clear in the slight cross-headwind.

When the course shifted from a southwesterly heading and jogged to the northeast near Koekelare, Wout van Elzakker (Vini Zabu' Brado KTM), Ruben Apers (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal), Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Barnabás Peák (Team BikeExchange), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R Citroën Team) finally managed to break the grip of the peloton, who were more than happy to give the six men a long leash.

The gap started small but began to grow as the sprinters' teams were fine with waiting until the three 45km closing circuits to reel in the escapees, and what was a 38-second gap ballooned to four minutes as they covered 42.3km in the first hour of racing.

As the leaders approached the entry to the circuits after 51.5km of racing, Tim 'the tractor' Declercq was already at the front of the peloton to set the pace, and, along with some help from Groupama-FDJ for Démare, the gap to the leaders fell to 3:36 as they crossed the line for the first time.

There's a road along the route that runs north to south: it's W. Cobergherstraat and in the Moeren region where the westerly winds slice through the peloton like knives and even without the howling gales of 2020's edition, the section was enough to split the peloton into two behind the six leaders, with Démare and Nizzolo safely tucked in the first group led by Jumbo-Visma, with Deceuninck-Quickstep notably absent. There was no panic, however, as the Belgian Classics giants welded the groups back together and took control of the pace again with 100km to go.

A gap of 2:15 to the six leaders at the midpoint was obliterated by the time the race reached the Moeren for the second time with 80km to go and although the flags along the course were whipping a bit more the wind never threatened to shattered the bunch like the previous year. Whether through a crash or other reasons Arkéa Samsic sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain Victorious), Declercq and Sean De Bie (Bingoal WB) had all left the race and with 77km to go the race was all back together.

Soon, the attacks began to fly, with Sebastian Mora (Movistar) launching a solo move with 72km to go and he was followed by Jack Bauer (BikeExchange). In the chase, Frederik Madsen (Uno-X) crashed and all hell broke loose in the bunch. Bingoal launched a chase, bringing Bauer back and Trek-Segafredo also came forward to try and force a selection behind Mora. However, Groupama-FDJ said no, and the chasing peloton was all back together, hanging Mora out to dry.

But Mora, a former track world champion and multi-time European champion in the track endurance events was keen to stay out front and held a 20-25 second gap for quite some time, perhaps motivated by the €1,000 bonus for most combative rider.

Behind him, a crash in a narrowing with 56km to go brought down Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), who was caught out as a small group of riders dashed onto a side path and Steward was squeezed into the kerb and went down. Despite the spill, some other close encounters in the bunch, and another crash from Christophe Noppe (Arkéa-Samsic) - with the exact same modus operandi as Stewart's - Mora's gap was still only a dozen seconds heading into the final hour of racing.

Mora finally came back to the bunch as they passed through De Panne ahead of the final lap with 48km to go and stopped to search for his team bus. Nathan van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma) set the pace heading into the final lap as the survivors in the peloton had a breather, some snacks and topped up from their bidons ahead of the frantic final 45km.

With 31km to go, Lluis Mas (Movistar) and Davide Martinelli (Astana-Premier Tech) put in an attack and although they never got that much of a gap they provided a foil for their teams and had a smoother time navigating the numerous narrowings, turns, traffic islands and bumps on the final circuit but were caught with 21.5km to go.

As the race passed through Veurne with 20km to go, an attack from Lotto Soudal's Brent Van Moer had about the same success - the Belgian inching out a 10-second gap in the narrow twists and turns that was quickly nullified on the wider open roads coming into Koksijde with 11.2km to go and the fight to hold position for the sprint was on.

Trek-Segafredo lost an option when Edward Theuns punctured with 8.5km to go on the narrow roads of the Hoge Blekker nature preserve and struggled to get back through the team cars but was helped back by Kiel Reijnen.

Team DSM, AG2R Citroën and Groupama-FDJ fought for control heading into 5km to go and Démare's men won out, at least temporarily as Jumbo-Visma challenged and riders swarmed onto the bike lanes and side paths and muddied the lead-out trains, giving B&B Hotels a chance to lead the pointy end of the race with 2km to go.

On the sinuous final 2km, Team DSM allowed Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) to open up a gap, making Deceuninck-Quickstep finally come forward to reel him in. Démare bombed the final turn on his teammate's wheel as QuickStep held the lead for Bennett, with Ackermann tucked in next to Jasper Philipsen, but the Irishman was far too powerful for his rivals and sealed his teammate's work with a convincing victory.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:27:40
2Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
5Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB
6Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
7Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
8Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
9Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
10Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB
11Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
12Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
13Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
14Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
15Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
16Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
17Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
18Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
19Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
20Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
21Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
22Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
23Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
24Alexander Konychev (Ita) Team BikeExchange
25Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
26Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos
27David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
28Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
29Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
30Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
31Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
32Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
33Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:10
34Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:12
35Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
36Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
37Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
38Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
39Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar Team
40Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
41Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
42Jan Petelin (Lux) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
43Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
44Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
45Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
46Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
47Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
48Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
49Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
50Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
51Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange
52Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
53Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
54Roberto González (Pan) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
55Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:18
56Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
57Donavan Grondin (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:19
58Jens Reynders (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
59Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
60Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
61Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
62Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
63Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
64Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM
65Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
66Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
67Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
68Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:23
69Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation
70Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:24
71Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:26
72Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:27
73Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:29
74Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
75Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:00:34
76Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis 0:00:38
77Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis 0:00:34
78Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
79Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
80Etienne van Empel (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM 0:00:44
81Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
82Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
83Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
84Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
85Leonardo Tortomasi (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
86Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
87Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
88Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
89Ludwig De Winter (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
90Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
91Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
92Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:51
93Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
94Barnabás Peák (Hun) Team BikeExchange
95Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB
96Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
97Jonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal WB
98Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
99Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
100Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
101Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis
102Alex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
103Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
104Sasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
105Joab Schneiter (Swi) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
106Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
107Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
108Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
109Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
110Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal
111Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
112Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
113Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
114Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
115André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
116Alvaro Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck-QuickStep
117Nicola Bagioli (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
118Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
119Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
120Maarten Wynants (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
121Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
122Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
123Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
124Syver Wærsted (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
125Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie
126Andrea Di Renzo (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
127Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
128Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
129Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
130Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
131Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
132Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM
133Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie
134Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
135Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
136Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
137Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
138Joel Suter (Swi) Bingoal WB
139Fabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:01:10
140Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:01:13
141Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:01:31
142Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
143Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:36
144Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:39
145Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:59
146Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
147Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
148Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:02:05
149Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:02:34
150Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie
151Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM 0:02:47
152Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
153Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:52
154Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:23
155Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:00
156Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:04:52
157Martin Salmon (Ger) Team DSM
158Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNSHugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
DNSHarry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
DNSNiklas Larsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFJakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Bahrain Victorious
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
DNFJasper De Plus (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFAlexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFSebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFNacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFFrederik Rodenberg Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFAnders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFWout van Elzakker (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM

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Laura Weislo
Managing Editor

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.

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