95th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC
Schoten, Belgium, April 18, 2007
Coverage began around 14:30 local European time (CEST)/ 8:30 (USA East)/ 23:30
Live commentary by Gregor Brown
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live
coverage of the 95th running of the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. It is a partly-cloudy
day here in Belgium, not too hot and not too cold; a perfect day for bicycle
This race is the oldest of Flemish
races, starting 100 years ago in 1907. Then the race was one by Frenchman Maurice
Leturgie but one year later a Belgian promptly added his name to the annals.
After 1908, the race took a break and returned in 1919 and has been run almost
every year since, with a stop for World Wars.
last Wednesday, the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen is a mid-week affair however we
are not likely to see riders flying head first down a cobbled descent; the race
is pancake-flat and does not offer a challenge like the Kemmelberg. The riders
will start in Antwerp, ride a 149 kilometre clock-wise loop and then finish
with three 16 kilometre circuits around Schoten, for a total of 197 kilometres.
Along the way they will cover several cobbled sections but nothing as serious
and race-deciding as the ones that dotted Paris-Roubaix.
14:42 CEST 139km/58km to go
After some initial
attacks a three-man move formed containing Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep-Innergetic),
Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) and Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank).
The move now has 1'23" over the chase being led by Milram and T-Mobile.
Van Impe and the other Quickstep boys will have more freedom today since 2006
Winner Tom Boonen did not take the start line.
14:46 CEST 141km/56km to go
The front three are
doing equal turns. They now are one one of the few sections of cobbles, but
this is nothing as serious as last Sunday's Roubaix.
The Broekstraat section is 1700 metres
long. The peloton has just entered this zone.
Some favourites today are 2002 winner
Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto), 1997 winner Erik Zabel (Milram), Max Van Heeswijk
(Rabobank), Robert Hunter (Barloworld). Please email us your favourites.
The race will hit the Broekstraat
section three more times on the closing 16 kilometre circuits around Schoten.
14:55 CEST 147km/50km to go
Sun is poking through
the clouds as the riders pass the red triangle, but it is not one kilometre
to go, there are still 50 to go, but the riders are now about to start the three
This break looks doomed. The sprinters will want
their day; Van Impe and Moerenhout will be setting something up for their teammates
while 'Rambo' Eeckhout is just riding in his usually cut-throat fashion.
15:02 CEST 154km/43km to go
Fang Xu (Skil-Shimano),
the only Chinese rider in the peloton, strikes out on his own. Xu is trying
to cross the gap to the three riders up front but it will be pretty tough. Mostly
it is a move to be on the television.
have taken up the reins of the peloton, which is now 1'09" back.
15:07 CEST 156km/41km to go
With 41 kilometres
to go the gap has just now gone under one minute.
As a reminder,
today is a double day for Cyclingnews' live coverage. Later on the crew
in Georgia will bring you live coverage of the Rome to Chattanooga stage of
the Tour of Georgia.
15:08 CEST 158km/39km to go
The three leaders
are now on the Broekstraat cobbles again. The gap back to the peloton is closing
and the roadside fans here in Schoten look ready for a sprint finish.
15:11 CEST 160km/37km to go
By the way, Xu's
escape attempt was squashed. DFL-Cyclingnews still leads the chase, along with
some boys from Predictor. The gap is now at 44".
The sprint teams
will need to be careful not to close the gap too soon because then they will
be faced with an onslaught of counter-attacks. Mario Cipollini's team would
always do this close-down to perfection. The man from Tuscany has one this race
two times, in 1991 and 1993.
If you have not yet seen our photo
section of the Paris-Roubaix, there are some great photos in there from last
weekend's hot day in Hell. Have a look here.
15:17 CEST 165km/32km to go
Jeremy Vennel (DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed)
is at the back of the peloton getting some cola from the team car to take back
up to his teammates who are riding on the front. The team is now holding the
gap steady. Just like we talked about, they know that if the gap is closed too
soon then madness will ensue (meaning counter-attacks).
riders are going through the finish line, they will have two more laps of 16
km to go.
Here are some readers' comments on
race favourites. Thanks for writing in!
"My favourite for this race
is Erik Zabel. I think, it's time for first his win in this season," - Trubetskoy
Denis, Ukraine, Sevastopol
"My favourite rider is Mark Cavendish
- T Mobile - If he can stay in touch and it comes down to a bunch sprint; he
has a great turn of speed. He's a new face in T Mobile and unknown in the peloton
so he could (and will very soon) pull out a surprise!" - Adrian
"I think one of the favourites should be Gert Steegmans, this race seems to
be suited for him! However, it would be nice seeing Van Petegem triumphing like
in 1994." - Francesco from Rapallo (Italia)
"My favourite for today
is Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) and Gert Steegmans (Quickstep-Innergetic) and Graeme
Brown (Rabobank)." - Stijn
"I'm rooting for Robbie Hunter - he is
a much under estimated sprinter." - Louw in Virginia
15:27 CEST 171km/26km to go
Unibet have now lent
a hand to controlling the three leaders. There are few lime green jerseys in
there, those would be from the Tenax boys. The gap is slightly less, now at
15:30 CEST 174km/23km to go
The three men are
on the 1700-metre Broekstraat cobble section again. They hold a gap of 39" to
the peloton, who are also entering the section.
leads over the cobbles. The riders look sharp under the sunlight in their dark
green jerseys. However, flash up to the figure of 'Rambo,' who is in the tricolore
jersey of Belgian Champion. The colours are Black, yellow and red.
15:34 CEST 178km/19km to go
Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
seems to be tucked in the bunch, around 20th position. This is his first full
year for T-Mobile, last year he rode a trial period, or as a stagiaire.
In just one month he will turn 21 years-old, a young lad who has a bright future
ahead of him. Most will remember him from his home ride in last year's Tour
of Britain, where he secured the overall points competition.
race is closing down here, the gap is 19" with 19km to go.
15:37 CEST 179km/18km to go
We are seeing a counter
move here from Wim Vansevenant (Predictor-Lotto), a DFL rider and a third rider.
15:40 CEST 181km/16km to go
(Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) stops for a rear flat change. There
is now way he will rejoin.
The three leaders are about to get caught
as they pass though the finish line, signaling 16 kilometres remaining. The
peloton is strung across the road as the race organizer rings the bell that
means one circuit to go. Soon a sprint team, like Milram, should really take
over to avoid any more counter-attacks.
15:41 CEST 182km/15km to go
The lead is down
to two riders, just Rambo and Van Impe; Moerenhout has been dropped. The gap
is at 12" and the peloton is lead by Predictor for McEwen.
15:44 CEST 184km/13km to go
Van Impe is really
digging here. Rambo, on a Merckx bike, is tucked behind his compatriot.
The two will watch each other because one will need to attack and go solo soon;
it will be the only chance, but their legs must be screaming right now, saying
'stop, stop this pain!'
15:45 CEST 186km/11km to go
The remaining two
escapees have been caught. Milram now controls the peloton through a tight right
15:49 CEST 188.2km/8.8km to go
There are no real
sprint favourites in the peloton. Our tip goes to Robbie McEwen; he seemed to
be coming on to form in the Gent-Wevelgem.
Rear flat for Bart Vanheule
(Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen), which will spell the end of his race.
Oh, also a front tire flat! Forget about it! Still the mechanic pushes him off
15:50 CEST 190.2km/6.8km to go
Let's not forget
about Bernhard Eisel (T-Mobile). The Austrian, who speaks about five languages
fluently, had some bad luck in Roubaix and could be out for revenge today. T-Mobile
is setting up the affairs for him.
The riders are on the cobbles
for the last time.
15:52 CEST 191.5km/5.5km to go
Oh, the look of
pain on the faces of Predictor and T-Mobile! The boys are really knocking out
the tempo here to make sure NO ONE gets off the front of this peloton. McEwen
and Eisel will be under a little pressure to pay back this huge amount of work.
15:53 CEST 192.5km/4.5km to go
Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed)
goes for a dig. Oh, he is pounding the pavement hard. He is joined by a Unibet
15:53 CEST 193.3km/3.7km to go
There is Quickstep
trying to join them.
15:54 CEST 194km/3km to go
It is Nico Mattan
(DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed), Gorik Gardeyn (Unibet.com) and Steven De Jongh
(Quickstep-Innergetic) with about 10".
15:56 CEST 195km/2km to go
Gardeyn is doing a
strong pull but if he looks back he can see the raving peloton. The sprint trains
are going to have any of this, they will clamp down hard on these three in the
15:56 CEST 195.2km/1.8km to go
They are caught.
15:57 CEST 195.9km/1.1km to go
Milram are setting up. T-Mobil has vanished.
Rabobank is there for Van Bon and
Final kilometre. Milram leads.
Zabel goes long but soon McEwen takes
over. But wait, there is a T-Mobile man.
It is in fact Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
who takes the win at the last metre over Robbie McEwen. A fabulous win for the
Minus that Points jersey in the Tour
of Britain that was his first win as a Professional. What a debut! Mark Cavendish
has won a Flemish Classic in front of a champion like Robbie McEwen.
Correction, he won a stage in the Course de la SolidaritÚ Olympique last year.
Now his T-Mobile teammates are congratulating him.
McEwen went with
about 350 metres to go but Cavendish ripped around Zabel on his right. The Brit
took the long way around to beat the talented sprinter McEwen.
"I am happy with the team roles this
year, and this is the first time I had a free role," baby-faced Cavendish said
after the win. "I grew up respecting Robbie, and I just hope I can be the next
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews for our live
coverage. Please check the race report page soon for full report and results,
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile Team
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
3 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
4 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
5 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
7 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com
8 Daniel Musiol (Ger) Team Wiesenhof-Felt
9 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld