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95th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC

Schoten, Belgium, April 18, 2007

Live schedule

Coverage began around 14:30 local European time (CEST)/ 8:30 (USA East)/ 23:30 Australia (EST).

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

14:32 CEST   
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 racing.

14:38 CEST   
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.

Like Gent-Wevelgem 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.

14:47 CEST   
The Broekstraat section is 1700 metres long. The peloton has just entered this zone.

14:49 CEST   
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.

14:52 CEST   
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 closing circuits.

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.

Meanwhile, DFL-Cyclingnews 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.

15:13 CEST   
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).

The three riders are going through the finish line, they will have two more laps of 16 km to go.

15:25 CEST   
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 34".

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.

Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner 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.

The 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
Glenn D'Hollander (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 turn.

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 to rejoin.

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 rider.

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 last minute.

15:56 CEST    195.2km/1.8km to go
They are caught.

15:57 CEST    195.9km/1.1km to go
Predictor and Milram are setting up. T-Mobil has vanished.

15:57 CEST   
Rabobank is there for Van Bon and Van Heeswijk.

15:57 CEST   
Final kilometre. Milram leads.

15:58 CEST   
Zabel goes long but soon McEwen takes over. But wait, there is a T-Mobile man.

15:59 CEST   
It is in fact Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) who takes the win at the last metre over Robbie McEwen. A fabulous win for the 20 year-old.

16:02 CEST   
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 Solidarité 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.

16:07 CEST   
"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 Robbie McEwen."

Thanks for joining Cyclingnews for our live coverage. Please check the race report page soon for full report and results, plus photos.

Provisional 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