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96th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC
Belgium, April 16, 2008
Cavendish sneaks by celebrating Boonen
Overconfident Paris-Roubaix winner finishes second
By Bjorn Haake in Schoten with additional reporting from Gregor Brown
Mark Cavendish, 22 year-old from the Isle of Man, returned to Schoten (Antwerp) to repeat in the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen, the site of his first professional win last year. The young High Road rider came flying by like a rocket on the finishing straight in Schoten, invisible to Tom Boonen and the crowd, which was cheering excitedly to see the Paris-Roubaix champion take another win.
As Boonen lifted his arms in a victory salute, Cavendish made a last, desperate lunge to the line, and managed to come by under the Belgians left arm to win by the closest of margins.
Last year's runner-up, Robbie McEwen of Silence-Lotto, stayed winless for the year, taking third place, but is inching closer to his first season victory, while Erik Zabel (Milram) repeated his fourth place finish from Gent-Wevelgem.
Boonen looked dejected when he realised his error and the crowd went silent, while a jubilant Cavendish stepped off his bike and hugged each member of his team. "The win is special for me because a year ago I won my first professional bike race here," the beaming Brit said after the finish. He admitted that "if he [Boonen] didn't put his hands up, I don't know if I would have won." Cavendish was on Wouter Weylandt's wheel and decided to pass on the left. "In De Panne, I passed on the right and I won by three bike lengths. Today, it didn't go so right," Cavendish described how he almost lost the race.
"I sprinted and I thought I had won," noted Boonen. "I didn't see anybody. ... He [Cavendish] is very fast and is like McEwen with a great acceleration in the last 50 metres. I have won here two times and we did our best, but it didn't work out this time." Cavendish concurred, stating that "I am not the strongest, but I think I am the fastest. You could see my speed at the end."
McEwen came close, but got no cigars. "It was very hard and Quick Step pulled [in the sprint]. It cost me too much energy to get on Boonen's wheel with 200 metres to go. I was a bloc and realised that the win wouldn't be for me. I could only manage a podium spot." The Aussie wasn't really that unhappy. "This was an intermediate stop on the road to the Giro ... The top form still has to come."
He was close enough to observe the finale, adding, "I saw Boonen lift his arms and thought 'don't do it', because I saw that Cav was coming." The finale was dominated by Quick Step and the Australian added, "Wouter Weylandt shouldn't have closed the door for Cavendish. Nevertheless, he was the fastest man and he deserves the victory."
Cavendish had similar thoughts on the sprint, musing that "some people sprint until 300 metres to go ... I had to get around them; it was like dodging traffic islands out there." The biggest problem for the Brit was to stay upright on the podium. The floor had gotten wet due to the usual champagne showers and Cavendish slipped while still wearing his cleats. He hit the ground pretty hard, but got up immediately and seemed to be OK. Nothing could stop the High Road sprinter today.
Zabel couldn't get onto the podium, but was once again up in the mix. His directeur sportif, Raoul Liebregts, was satisfied. "We controlled the race pretty well and prepared the finish well," Liegbregts said. "Erik tried to stay on Tom Boonen's wheel in order to be prepared to be able to strike at the right time. Unfortunately the others were a bit stronger today. But already tomorrow we're getting another chance to do better," making clear that Zabel will be highly motivated at the GP de Denain Porte du Hainaut.
The day was dominated by a break from Koen Barbe (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano), but once the sprinters' teams took control in the three finishing circuits of 16 kilometres each, it was the usual suspects at the front. There were High Road and Silence-Lotto jerseys, but first Milram took charge of things on the front. However, in the final three kilometres they were replaced by Quick Step, amidst the cheers of the crowd at the finish line. It all seemed to work out for the Belgian squad, which didn't allow anybody to sneak off the front in the final kilometres.
The Quick Step train passed the flamme rouge on the front and dropped their captain off in a nice position. But unfortunately for them and the crowd, Boonen didn't see a fast-emerging Cavendish which spoiled the day for local favourites.
How it unfolded
The 96th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen started under sunny skies and crisp temperatures in Antwerp at 12:15.
After attempts from various riders to escape, one group finally got free. Belgian Koen Barbé (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Dutchman Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) took off and quickly built up a 13'20" advantage. However, with 100 kilometres remaining the gap was below eight minutes.
Past the town of Lichtaart, the peloton was briefly held up by a train crossing while Barbé and Timmer kept an advantage at just over seven minutes. There was no panic in the peloton, which had a bit of lunch and then resumed the chase with the Volksbank and Landbouwkrediet teams doing much of the work..
The gap was below five minutes with 75 kilometres to go thanks to the continued efforts of Teams Volksbank and Landbouwkrediet. Even past winner Servais Knaven was in the mix to help control the gap for his High Road team captain, Cavendish.
The sprinters' teams realised they did too much too soon and let off the gas at 65 kilometres to go. The race was en bloc with a gap at 2'45", while the sprinters were waiting to devour the escapees. Five kilometres later, the gap was at three minutes to Barbé and Timmer.
The chase group, under the pressure of attacks, stretched out and moved closer to the escape duo, making the gap at 2'00" with 55 kilometres to race.
After three hours and 56 minutes of racing, a tired-looking Barbé led Timmer over the finish line in Schoten to start the three closing circuits of 16 kilometres. The peloton was not far behind, at 1'18".
Rabobank and Quickstep came to the fore and saw that the gap was controlled in the first of three closing circuits. With 41 kilometres to go, over the 1700-metre Broekstraat cobble sector, the gap was down to 39".
Barbé and Timmer were brought under control with 30 kilometres to go and this opened the door for opportunists to try their luck.
Ian Stannard (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner) put in his move at 19 kilometres remaining, after the peloton turned away from the Albert canal. The Brit never got far, only holding a three-second advantage over the finish line that signaled one circuit to go. When Stannard was caught, it was the turn of his team-mate David Boucher.
As the sprinter's trains fought for position through the many twists and turns, there was a little bit of chaos in the middle of the group when Dennis Haueisen (Team Milram) took a tumble with 12 kilometres to go. He quickly got up and appeared to be fine.
Broucher held a small and undefendable advantage that ended as the race entered the final 10 kilometres. He was swamped by the peloton, which was led by Milram and High Road with the Quick Step train tucked in behind. As the race plowed into the final kilometres, Cavendish's High Road train lost its young charge, and had to pull off the front and re-form. The Quick Step train then took over with five strong men leading the fresh Paris-Roubaix winner Boonen.
That the Belgian would win seemed inevitable, and his lead-out dropped him off at the perfect moment and he seemingly sprinted to victory, never realising that the speedy High Road rider was fast approaching on his left. Cavendish nipped past as Boonen began his victory salute to take his second consecutive Scheldeprijs.
Full report to follow.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Stephen McMahon
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team High Road 4.59.15 (41.503 km/h) 2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence - Lotto 4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 5 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 6 Fabien Bacquet (Fra) Skil-Shimano 7 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Team High Road 8 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step 9 Daniel Musiol (Ger) Team Volksbank 10 Borut Bozic (Slo) Cycle Collstrop 11 Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Preti Mangimi 12 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 13 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence - Lotto 14 Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Volksbank 15 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Cycle Collstrop 16 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank 17 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Skil-Shimano 18 Raynold Smith (RSA) Cycle Collstrop 19 Sjef De Wilde (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 20 Eduard Bogaert (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team 21 Jurgen Van Loocke (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 22 Christopher Froome (Ken) Barloworld 23 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 24 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Barloworld 25 René Weissinger (Ger) Team Volksbank 26 Christoph Sokoll (Aut) Team Volksbank 27 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 28 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 29 Harald Starzengruber (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 30 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 31 Ian Stannard (GBr) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 32 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 33 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Elk Haus - Simplon 34 Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence - Lotto 35 Luca Barla (Ita) Team Milram 36 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 37 Jonathan Bertrand (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon 38 Marco Corti (Ita) Barloworld 39 Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team Volksbank 40 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 41 Sven Nevens (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 42 Gil Suray (Bel) Cycle Collstrop 43 Steve Schets (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 44 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step 45 Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank 46 Jens Mouris (Ned) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 47 Damien Timmermans (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon 48 Boris Shpilevsky (Rus) Preti Mangimi 49 Kristof De Zutter (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 50 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team High Road 51 Maarten Neyens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 52 Paul Manning (GBr) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 53 David Reyniers (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team 54 Tom Criel (Bel) Cycle Collstrop 55 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team High Road 56 Philipp Ludescher (Aut) Team Volksbank 57 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Rabobank 58 Jean-Paul Simon (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT 59 Michael Van Poucke (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT 60 Tim Meeusen (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 61 Jan Bluekens (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team 62 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 63 David Deroo (Fra) Skil-Shimano 64 Hugo Sabido (Por) Barloworld 65 Yusuke Hatanaka (Jpn) Skil-Shimano 66 Stefan Rucker (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 67 André Korff (Ger) Team Volksbank 68 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld 69 Steven Cummings (GBr) Barloworld 70 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team High Road 71 Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Skil-Shimano 72 Rudy Rouet (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon 73 Koen Barbé (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen 74 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 75 Matthias Vanhie (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team 76 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick Step 77 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 78 Jochen Summer (Aut) Elk Haus - Simplon 79 Kenny Van Der Schueren (Bel) Cycle Collstrop 80 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi 81 Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram 82 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team High Road 83 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Team Volksbank 84 Yoshimasa Hirose (Jpn) Skil-Shimano 85 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank 86 Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram 87 Bert Roesems (Bel) Silence - Lotto 88 Stève Fogen (Lux) Preti Mangimi 89 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank 90 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence - Lotto 91 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank 92 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 93 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step 0.20 94 Lucas Persson (Swe) Cycle Collstrop 0.23 95 Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus) Cycle Collstrop 96 Massimo Mazzanti (Ita) Preti Mangimi 97 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Preti Mangimi 98 Davide Viganò (Ita) Quick Step 99 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team High Road 0.25 100 Michael Polazzi (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon 101 Stijn Ennekens (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team 0.32 102 Steven De Decker (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT 0.40 103 Edward Clancy (GBr) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 104 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step 0.43 105 Tony Martin (Ger) Team High Road 0.44 106 Jorn Van Der Veken (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT 0.53 107 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank 1.05 108 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step 1.18 109 Michael Vanderaerden (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team 110 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Silence - Lotto 111 Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano 1.22 112 Mario Ickx (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT 1.45 113 Jeremy Devaux (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon 114 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram 1.53 115 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram 1.55 116 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Preti Mangimi DNF Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Silence - Lotto DNF Glenn d'Hollander (Bel) Silence - Lotto DNF Dennis Haueisen (Ger) Team Milram DNF Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Milram DNF Josef Benetseder (Aut) Team Volksbank DNF Alexander Gufler (Ita) Team Volksbank DNF Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner DNF Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen DNF Geoffrey Coupé (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi DNF Vincenzo Centrone (Lux) Preti Mangimi DNF Gianluca Geremia (Ita) Preti Mangimi DNF Davy Tuytens (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT DNF Stijn Bastens (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT DNF Michael Blanchy (Bel) Josan Mercedes Benz Aalst CT DNF Jérémy Burton (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon DNF Jeremy Honorez (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon DNF Laurent Fontaine (Bel) Bodysol - Euro Millions - Pôle Continental Wallon DNF Sven Wielandt (Bel) Profel Prorace Continental Team DNF Stijn Hoornaert (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team DNF Kenny Van Braeckel (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team