Steegmans leads De Panne

Sacha Modolo (AFP)
Sacha Modolo (AFP)

Koksijde - Italian Sacha Modolo has won a sprint finish on the second stage of the Three Days of De Panne race Wednesday as Belgian Gert Steegmans took over the leader's jersey.

Lampre's Modolo, 26, triumphed in a race to the line ahead of some distinguished company as Frenchman Arnaud Demare, second at last week's Gent-Wevelgem, was bridesmaid again with Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff third.

One rider who didn't see the end of the 206km stage from Zotegem to Koksijde was Slovakia's Peter Sagan, the "accidental" winner of Tuesday's opening stage.

Starting the day in the leader's jersey he pulled out early on to save himself for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, where he will be amongst the favourites alongside Swiss Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen of Belgium.

Steegmans earnt some bonus seconds on an intermediate sprint which was enough to give him a one second overall lead ahead of Italian Oscar Gatto, who was second to Cannondale team-mate Sagan on Tuesday, when the Slovak, acting as lead-out man in the sprint, failed to sit up in time to allow Gatto to pass him before the line.

The day's main breakaway consisted of 32 riders but were caught around 20km from home.

Three more riders -- Dutchman Niki Terpstra, Belgian Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Gatto -- took the opportunity to launch a counter-attack but they too were caught 3km out.

Thursday's final day includes two stages: a straight 109.7km run to De Panne followed by a 14.3km time-trial.

Results and standings following Wednesday's 206km second stage of the Three Days of De Panne stage race from Zotegem to Koksijde.

1. Sacha Modolo (ITA/Lampre), 4hr 28min 15sec, 2. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) same time, 3. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha) s.t., 4. Ruslan Tleubayev (KAZ/Astana) s.t., 5. Danilo Napolitano (ITA/Wanty) s.t., 6. Daniele Colli (ITA/Neri Sottoli) s.t., 7. Alessandro Bazzana (ITA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t., 8. Marcel Kittel (GER/Giant-Shimano) s.t., 9. Kenneth Vanbilsen (BEL/Topsport) s.t., 10. Marco Canola (ITA/Bardiani) s.t.

Selected others:

12. Gert Steegmans (BEL/Omega Pharma) s.t.

Abandoned - Peter Sagan (SVK/Cannondale)

Overall standings:

1. Gert Steegmans (BEL/Omega Pharma) 8h57:45, 2. Oscar Gatto (ITA/Cannondale) at 1sec, 3. Kenneth Vanbilsen (BEL/Topsport) 3, 4. Niki Terpstra (NED/Omega Pharma) 5, 5. Mauro Finetto (ITA/Neri Sottoli) 9, 6. Vincent Jerome (BEL/Europcar) s.t., 7. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL/Omega Pharma) s.t., 8. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) 14, 9. Luke Durbridge (AUS/Orica-GreeEdge) 20, 10. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha) 24

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