• 2012/09/22 Ken Hanson Charges to Third Place Finish in De Kustpijl in Belgium
    • Ken Hanson Charges to Third Place Finish in De Kustpijl in Belgium Ken Hanson Charges to Third Place Finish in De Kustpijl in Belgium Ken Hanson Charges to Third Place Finish in De Kustpijl in Belgium

      Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Ken Hanson bested a charging peloton to claim third place at the UCI 1.2 ranked De Kustpijl. Hanson was left to sprint for the final podium spot after Belgians Kevin Claeys (Landbouwkrediet) and Andy Cappelle (Accent Jobs) escaped with 5 laps to go and proved uncatchable. 

      The 170.8 kilometer race around the beautiful coastal town of Knokke-Heist consisted of four large 24 kilometer laps through the wide-open countryside and concluded with 8 highly technical 9.2 kilometer downtown circuits, with a tough, crosswind heavy finish line along the beach. Hanson, who powered himself to the front on the long, windy closing straightaway, was happy to finish on the podium but was left wondering what could have been. 

      “Sprinting for third is never the ideal situation, but it is always fun to go head-to-head with such good competition after a tough circuit,” said Hanson, who provided a unique look into the mechanics of the sprint following the race.  

      “With 600 meters to go on the final straightaway, I was driving it on the front. In a cross-tailwind, it is a lot better to launch your sprint sooner. The reason for that is because there is very little advantage to gain from drafting other riders in a cross-tailwind – someone has to put out a lot more power to get around you with those conditions. A normal sprint is all about timing, but in a cross-tailwind it is all about who is the strongest, who has the most power.”

      Hanson led things out from a long distance, knowing that riders would try to come around him over the closing meters and give up the advantage of the draft.

      “Two Accent Jobs guys came around me with about 400 meters to go, and I took a breather in their draft and then launched with 150 meters to go. It’s kind of like doing two sprints – one to set things up and one to close the deal.”

      The peloton stayed mostly consolidated through the large laps, but the high winds, narrow streets, and numerous technical turns slowly stretched the peloton past its breaking point. Scott Zwizanski, racing aggressively to keep the race in check for Hanson, was active in two breakaways, the second of which gained a minute on the field before being reeled in on the tight downtown circuits. Cappelle and Claeys launched their attack on the closing circuits, and it proved tactically sound – despite Optum p/b KBS, NSP-Ghost and Team Wallonie chasing hard over the final laps to catch up, the duo built a significant advantage as a small group on the claustrophobic circuit. 

      “We made the mistake of not chasing earlier. However, we started with only five guys and we were down to four when it was go time. When the circuits are this technical, it’s hard to make up time on a break and you have to start chasing earlier than normal. It was disappointing to not catch the break, but Ken had a great sprint and we are very happy with another podium in Europe.” 

      The near-miss leaves two more chances for Optum p/b KBS to claim a UCI victory during their fall campaign – tomorrow’s 1.2 ranked Gooikse Pijl circuit race and finally Scott Zwizanski and Tom Zirbel’s assault on the unique two-man time trial Duo Normand next Sunday.