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95th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC
Schoten, Belgium, April 18, 2007
Man from the Isle beats kangaroo
Mark Cavendish grabs his first win among the elite sprinters
By Brecht Decaluwé in Belgium
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.
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.
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.
"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
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