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Photo ©: Schaaf

95th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC

Schoten, Belgium, April 18, 2007

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Man from the Isle beats kangaroo

Mark Cavendish grabs his first win among the elite sprinters

By Brecht Decaluwé in Belgium

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Honorary chairman and former organiser of the Scheldeprijs Hector Jansen always said that champions are born in his race, and that's just what happened today one hundred years after the first Scheldeprijs. 20 year-old Mark Cavendish from Isle of Man was in the wheels for about 197km and then threw his bike just before that of kangaroo Robbie McEwen. The young lad from Laxey then let out a cry before getting hugged by his T-Mobile mates.

"I'm not surprised in my ability but surprised in my form. This was my first chance in a free role and I took it," baby-faced Cavendish said. The Manxman explained the win against experienced sprinters like McEwen didn't come as a surprise to him. "It's great to race against these people but I was the fastest amateur of the past three years. Bernie [Bernhard Eisel] got me up there in the right wheel, it's thanks to him that I can win here," said the Madison world champion from 2005.

Beating Robbie McEwen in a semi-classic bunch sprint shows that this man has the guts to become a big gun. "I have the biggest respect for him [McEwen], actually I hope I can be the next Robbie McEwen; I want to sprint like him," the young man who currently resides in Tervuren, Belgium, said. "I'm concentrating on the road these days although I'm returning to the track next year for the Olympics. Now I'm focusing on these races in Belgium; I love Belgium, live in Belgium... I want to make a name here," continued Cavendish, making sure to win over new local fans.

Robbie McEwen was disappointed about the result in Schoten. "I lost speed and Cavendish passed me," McEwen bundled his view on the sprint into one phrase. "I joined the Rabo's with 800 metres to go but [Graeme] Brown ended up in the front too early and he started freewheeling with 300m to go. Then I thought I needed to start anyway but it was 20 metres too far, I had nothing left in my legs," McEwen explained.

"I've been beaten at my best, the best I could do today," said McEwen, who claimed he wasn't in great form. "I was good in Gent-Wevelgem and then enjoyed a period of rest since. Still, I am a little disappointed but I assume you can't win all the time," McEwen said.

Tom Boonen was on hand
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Due to the absence of Tom Boonen it was Gert Steegmans who would lead the sprint for Quick Step but the Belgian couldn't fight against the Commonwealth riders. "It was a very tumultuous sprint and I asked Wouter [Weylandt] to start and surprise the bunch with 400 metres to go but I wasn't completely in his wheel, and my chain bothered me... when I saw Mark go I realized I wouldn't win," Steegmans said.

When asked about Cavendish, the Belgian didn't look up to his performance. "You see his legs and you know he's fast but it was an easy race and if you're quick then you could take part in the sprint. It was super fast but you didn't need force," Steegmans said.

Last year's winner Tom Boonen, who was in the team car encouraging his teammates, did not start due to his intestinal problems. "I'm still not feeling great but it was fun to be in the team car. I think I ate too much dust in Hell [Paris-Roubaix - ed.], some other guys suffered as well but I guess I'm vulnerable to those things," Boonen said on Sporza radio.

How it unfolded

The race celebrated its 100th anniversary - it's even older than the Ronde van Vlaanderen - and 176 riders got under away with a sunny sky in Schoten, near Antwerp, Belgium. During the first half of the race there was an early crash after only six kilometres with Elia Rigotto and Frederik Willems, the Italian was taken to the hospital with an assumed broken collarbone, Willems abandoned a little later. Soon after there was a promising escape of twelve riders, Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step-Innergetic , Nick Ingels (Predictor-Lotto) and Matthé Pronk (Unibet.com) were among them. They reached a maximum gap of 45" but were brought back after 46 kilometres. The peloton didn't want to let anybody get too far and the average speed of 50.7 km/h in the first hour made that clear.

The second hour wasn't much slower as it kept raining attacks, now from Leon Van Bon (Rabobank), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step-Innergetic) and Ramuntxo Garmendia (Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders).

At the feed zone, after about 100km, Roberto Petito (Liquigas) - fifth in Paris-Roubaix - abandoned the race. Twenty kilometres later a trio took off and they stayed clear for almost all of the finale.

Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank), Niko Rambo Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) and Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep) were chased by a peloton led by Predictor and Milram for Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel. The gap came under control by the peloton as it was clear there were strong guys up front. With 40km to go Wim Vansevenant (Predictor-Lotto) noticed the breakaway had less than a minute and it looked like they would catch the group too early; the Belgian told the other domestique riders to pull a little more slowly.

Cavendish takes it
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The riders hit the local circuit for three laps of 16 kilometres while the peloton kept playing the cat-and-mouse game with the escape trio, keeping it within reach. The speed in the peloton was raised when they rode towards the relatively smooth cobbles of the Broekstraat and the three were now at 15". Moerenhout dropped back after he was surprised by an attack from Van Impe but with about ten kilometres to go the sprint to the sprint started.

Van Impe was in the early breakaway during Paris-Roubaix as well - finishing ninth in Roubaix - and it doesn't seem like he wants to ride in the peloton these days. "I was very good again today but maybe we needed someone from Predictor [in the escape] to make it to the finish. I had the impression the others weren't going for it 100%," said Van Impe, who can look back to a solid springtime.

Against the wind the speed went up to 50 to 55 km/h and nobody dared to attack the peloton... until Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews) and Gorik Gardeyn (Unibet.com) had a go with four kilometres to go. Steven De Jongh (Quickstep-Innergetic) bridged up to the duo in front with an impressive acceleration but with two kilometres to go the adventure was over.

Podium (l-r):
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

"This was my last classic and I did everything I could to go well. Everybody knew I would attack but we had the wind at our faces, there wasn't much wind but enough to suffer given there were three teams in front. I showed myself but it's a shame I couldn't win. There are nicer races this season and I'm sure I'll win one of them," Mattan said after his last Spring Classic.

There were some trains spotted, including Milram; it tried to lead the peloton during the final kilometre. Rabobank took over from them for Graeme Brown but the Australian ended up in front too early. Robbie McEwen started the sprint with 300 metres to go while Wouter Weylandt had launched Gert Steegmans in McEwen's wheel. Mark Cavendish was in Steegmans' wheel and passed Steegmans with ease. McEwen couldn't keep going in the final metres and the youngster from Isle of Man pipped the Australian on the line.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com

Images by Yoni Peeters/www.cyclingpictures.be

Results - 197km

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile                                 4.09.00 (47.469 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto                                  
3 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                            
4 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                           
5 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank                                          
6 Claudio Cucinotta (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                               
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram                                              
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com                                         
9 Daniel Musiol (Ger) Wiesenhof-Felt                                   
10 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen        
11 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld                                      
12 Peter Velits (Svk) Wiesenhof-Felt                                   
13 Jens Renders (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                                
14 André Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile                                        
15 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                                
16 Martin Velits (Svk) Wiesenhof-Felt                                  
17 Enrico Degano (Ita) Barloworld                                      
18 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas                                       
19 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen           
20 _Eduard Bogaert (Bel) Unknown                                       
21 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                    
22 Evert Verbist (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen           
23 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Milram                                       
24 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) Klaipeda-Splendid                          
25 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Klaipeda-Splendid                               
26 Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Davo                                      
27 David Harrigan (Aus) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                      
28 Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner              
29 Hansjorg Standaert (Bel) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen                  
30 Sjef De Wilde (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                    
31 Thomas Ongena (Bel) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen                       
32 Gregory Henderson (NZl) T-Mobile                                    
33 Thierry De Groote (Bel) Unknown                                     
34 Oleg Grishkine (Rus) Navigators Insurance                           
35 Mathieu Criquielion (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion                     
36 Kenny Van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 
37 Markus Eichler (Ger) Unibet.com                                     
38 Rhys Pollock (Aus) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                        
39 Matti Helminen (Fin) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                      
40 Marius Bernatonis (Ltu) Klaipeda-Splendid                           
41 Koen Das (Bel) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen Das                        
42 Tom Steels (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                    
43 Jean-Paul Simon (Bel) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders       
44 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Unibet.com                                       
45 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Unibet.com                                      
46 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Unibet.com                                      
47 Kevin Peeters (Bel) Davo Peeters                                    
48 Christian Leben (Ger) Wiesenhof-Felt                                
49 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Unibet.com                                  
50 Janek Tombak (Est) Jartazi Promo Fashion                            
51 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile                                       
52 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Rabobank                                     
53 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                       
54 Serge Baguet (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                             
55 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                           
56 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld                           0.12
57 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 
58 Piet Rooijakkers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 
59 Bart De Spiegelaere (Bel) Klaipeda-Splendid                         
60 Roel Vanmuysen (Bel) Klaipeda-Splendid                              
61 Ramuntxo Garmendia (Fra) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders    
62 Marc Streel (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                                 
63 Robby Meul (Bel) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                          
64 Frederik Penne (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                              
65 Steven Thys (Bel) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders           
66 Kurt Dierckx (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team                      
67 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion                     
68 Martin Müller (Swi) Milram                                          
69 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                
70 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Palmans Collstrop                              
71 Erwin Thijs (Bel) Unibet.com                                        
72 Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Rabobank                                    
73 Vytautas Kaupas (Ltu) Jartazi Promo Fashion                         
74 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank                                           
75 Servais Knaven (Ned) T-Mobile                                       
76 Geert Omloop (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion                            
77 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                
78 Simas Kondrotas (Ltu) Klaipeda-Splendid                             
79 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Milram                                   0.21
80 Michaël Blanchy (Bel) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders       
81 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Milram                                          
82 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank                                     0.25
83 Koen Barbé (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen              
84 Honorio Machado Perez (Ven) Tenax-Menikini                          
85 Jan Bluekens (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team                  0.28
86 Kristian House (GBr) Navigators Insurance                       0.30
87 Sven Nevens (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion                             
88 Christian Murro (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                            0.34
89 Alessandro Bertuola (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                            
90 Giosuč Bonomi (Ita) Barloworld                                      
91 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                               
92 Nico Mattan (Bel) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                         
93 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
94 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                        
95 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                           
96 Diego Caccia (Ita) Barloworld                                       
97 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                            
98 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Milram                                  0.42
99 Nick Ingels (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                               0.53
100 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                   
101 André Korff (Ger) T-Mobile                                     1.01
102 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                        1.07
103 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                 
104 Jef Michels (Bel) Pictoflex-Thompsom-Hyundai                   1.28
105 Tijs Crombez (Bel) Pictoflex-Thompsom-Hyundai                      
106 Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Rabobank                                   
107 Cameron Jennings (Aus) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                   
108 Evan Oliphant (GBr) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                      
109 Phillip Schulz (Ger) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen                     
110 Peter Wuyts (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                                
111 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Milram                                          
112 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen          
113 Christoph Roodhooft (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                        
114 Glenn D'Hollander (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen      
115 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Davo                                         
116 Kevi Van Den Eeckhout (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team            
117 Bart Vanheule (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen          
118 Kenny Van Braeckel (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion                     
119 Zakaria El Darabna (Bel) Pictoflex-Thompsom-Hyundai                
120 Jurgen Van Loocke (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                          
121 Aaron Olson (USA) T-Mobile                                         
122 Mindaugas Striska (Ltu) Jartazi Promo Fashion                  1.43
123 Jorgen Vercammen (Bel) Davo                                    2.03
124 Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Barloworld                             2.35
125 Fabrice Piemontesi (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                            
126 Paul Manning (GBr) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                    
127 David Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner              2.46
128 Peter Ronsse (Bel) Babes Only-Villapark Lingemeer-Flan         2.50
129 Sergio Lagana (Ita) Tenax-Menikini                                 
130 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas                                
131 Andrew Vancoillie (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team                
132 Robert Retschke (Ger) Wiesenhof-Felt                               
133 Felix Odebrecht (Ger) Wiesenhof-Felt                               
134 Torsten Schmidt (Ger) Wiesenhof-Felt                           3.33
135 Tony Bracke (Bel) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen                        
136 James Perry (RSA) Barloworld                                       
137 Kyle Wamsley (USA) Navigators Insurance                            
138 Jeremy Vennel (NZl) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                      
139 Scott Davis (Aus) T-Mobile                                         
140 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank                                     
141 Aron Huysmans (Bel) Babes Only-Villapark Langemeer-Flanders        
142 Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Navigators Insurance                       
143 Matt Cooke (USA) Navigators Insurance                              
144 Frank Van Kuik (Ned) Yawadoo-Abm-Tv-Vlaanderen                     
145 Stefan Wijnands (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                            
146 Tomoya Kano (Jpn) Skil-Shimano                                     
147 Bart Laeremans (Bel) Davo                                          
148 Jochem Engelen (Bel) Davo                                          
149 Joris Wagemans (Bel) Davo                                          
150 Jan Roziers (Bel) Davo                                             
151 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                     
152 Greg De Winde (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team                    
153 Bart Veyt (Bel) Profel Ziegler Cycling Team                        
Starters: 176