French cyclist Sylvain Chavanel won the Three Days of La Panne race after claiming the third and final stage, a 14-kilometre time trial on Thursday in Belgium.
The win has confirmed the Omega Pharma rider as one of the men to beat in the peleton for Sunday’s one-day classic, the Tour of Flanders.
Chavanel beat home Dutch rival Lieuwe Westra and Canadian Svein Tuft to become the first French winner of the race.
In the overall standings, Chavanel finished clear of Westra and Poland’s Maciej Bodnar.
“To win this race was a real objective. I was starting to get impatient,” said Chavanel.
“I was one of the few riders in the team not to have won this season,” added the French champion.
“This race against the clock win is the fruit of work done over the winter on my riding position on the bike.
“I finished sixth in the time trial in the Tour of San Luis (in Argentina), then fourth in a time trial in the Paris-Nice. Finally, I’ve won.”
He leads Omega Pharma’s charge alongside Tom Boonen on the Tour of Flanders which has been modified this year.
“The new route is making everyone scared, especially the three final laps … our team is confident. We are notching up victories, but the pressure not only rests on our shoulders,” reflected Chavanel.