De Panne: Zanotti Wins Stage 3; Cooke Extends Lead
Marco Zanotti (Vini Caldirola) has won Stage 3 of the Three Days of De Panne. The Italian outsprinted Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Davitamon) to win the hilly, 116-km stage in 2:36:06. Cooke has extended his overall lead to 0:10.
The wind and three climbs in the first half of the stage caused the peloton to split. Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) and John Vansummeren and Sebastien Rosseler (both from Relax-Bodysol) attacked into the wind, but the peloton, led by La Francaise des Jeux.com, kept the escapees on a short leash. With 30 km left, 0:40 separated the bunch from the break.
With 19 km remaining, the escapees were reeled in. Seven km later, Erwin Thijs (Mr. Bookmaker) and Bart Dockx (Relax-Bodysol) put in an attack. It failed, as did one by Salvatore Commesso (Saeco). Boonen, who was caught out when the wind split the field, reached the lead group.
With 400 m to go, Vini Caldirola had two men at the front. Zanotti lunged into the lead, and his teammate let a gap form. Initially, Cooke thought that one rider was leading out the other and did not chase until it was too late.
In the overall, Cooke leads Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) by 0:10 and George Hincapie (U.S. Postal Service) by 0:16. The race will come down to Stage 4, a 13.7-km time trial in De Panne. Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!