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91st Grote Scheldeprijs - Vlaanderen - 1.1

Belgium, April 16, 2003

2002 Results   Results    Past winners

Capelle takes the initiative

By Jeff Jones

Ludovic Capelle
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

It was a sprinters' podium but by no means a bunch sprint to finish the 91st Grote Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. In front of a sun drenched crowd in Schoten, Landbouwkrediet's Ludovic Capelle took his ninth career win by attacking his three breakaway companions with 500m to go. Capelle, who had ridden so hard in last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, finished a handful of seconds in front of former teammate Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), German sprinter Steffen Radochla (Team Coast), and Servais Knaven (Quick.Step). Erik Zabel led the bunch home for fifth place, another few seconds behind.

Capelle had to go deep into the red to get to the line, as with just over 1 km to go he had helped chased down a similar move by Knaven. But when Kirsipuu took over at the front, Knaven was caught, and Capelle had time to recover and launch himself off the back of the four man break.

"Jaan and I had done the most work in the final," said Capelle afterwards. "I was sure that Jaan wouldn't chase me. Also if he had attacked, then I wouldn't have ridden against him either. That was definitely the toughest 500 metres of my life!"

27 year old Capelle noted that the Scheldeprijs was the first race that Peter Van Petegem won (in 1994 with Trident). "It's my second big race win - why can't I do better later on? I'm still young and now I feel really good with Gerard Bulens and Landbouwkrediet. It's a very good team."

How it unfolded

There was not an arm warmer in sight as the 163 riders left Antwerp's Grote Markt on the banks of the Schelde shortly before midday. The sun was out and the temperatures were up around the 24 degree mark, which is uncharacteristic for Belgium in April, but no-one was complaining about it. The race consisted of a big lap of 155 kilometres followed by three finishing laps of 15 km each, and there were several cobbled sections en route to make things a little more interesting in this very flat race.

After several early attacks, the break of the day escaped after 85 kilometres, containing Jans Koerts (BankGiroLoterij), Mark Scanlon (Ag2r), Jens Heppner (Wiesenhof), Jeff Louder (Navigators) and Allan Johansen (Team fakta). The leaders built up nearly five minutes lead to the peloton, although Johansen had to let go after he fell on a cobbled section near Turnhout. They were chased by a lone Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step), who could get no closer than two minutes.

The peloton started getting interested with 80 kilometres to go, as the leaders approached the 2000m Pulderbos cobbles. Here, Jans Koerts powered away from his breakaway companions for a while, only to be caught and dropped again later on. The peloton was led by Frank Vandenbroucke, who split the bunch into several sections on the cobbles, but no-one else with him was willing to go on with it.

The attacks continued in the peloton on the fast run in to Schoten, and the four remaining leaders were running out of time. Servais Knaven, Carlos da Cruz and Gert Omloop all tried before Scott Sunderland (Team fakta) attacked with 50 km to go. Sunderland was joined by Jimmy Engoulvent (La Boulangère), Mikhail Timochine (Landbouwkrediet), Andy Flickinger (Ag2r), and Bert Scheirlinckx (Flanders-iTeamnova), and the five man group led the bunch by 10 seconds into Schoten the first time across the line with 45 km to go. The early leaders (Koerts and co.) were only 1'40 in front at this stage, having enjoyed 70 km of freedom.

Sunderland's break didn't survive long into the first lap, as Telekom (for Zabel) and Lotto-Domo (for McEwen) wound up the pace. This made big inroads on the early break, which was caught just after the end of the lap. With the peloton back together again with 28 km to go, the race began afresh. Telekom and Lotto-Domo were still trying to control things, but could not prevent a stream of attacks from several teams who knew they didn't have a chance in a bunch sprint.

With the help of a tailwind, the pace hit 60 km/h along the Albertkanaal in the peloton, and this made life difficult for the sprinters' teams to stay organised. Quick.Step-Davitamon tried to create a split with Servais Knaven driving off the front with one lap (15 km to go), joined by Steffen Radochla. It was successful, as Jaan Kirsipuu and Ludovic Capelle bridged up to form a four man leading group. The smooth teamwork of Telekom and Lotto had been broken, and all of a sudden the four had a 10 second gap to the peloton.

A chasing group with Fabien De Waele, Jimmy Engoulvent, Malte Urban, Chris Wherry, Scott Sunderland, Ronald Mutsaars and Bert Hiemstra got within 8 seconds before being caught by the peloton, which now had a lot of Team Coast riders in front trying to slow things down. With 5 km to go, the gap was still close to 10 seconds and Lotto's Aart Vierhouten and Stefan van Dijk, with McEwen on their wheels, were attempting to close it. However, it was to no avail, and it was clear that the "sprinters group" in front would stay away.

The chase was completely disrupted by crashes in the peloton with 2 km to go, involving McEwen, Hunter, Riebenbauer, Dean and Engoulvent. McEwen looked to be the most seriously hurt, and was taken to hospital for further examination.

Ludovic Capelle
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

In front, Servais Knaven realised that he had no chance against the quicker legs of Kirsipuu, Capelle and Radochla, and put in a big attack with just over 1 kilometre to go. But Capelle refused to let him go, and did a lot of chasing work before Kirsipuu finished it off with around 800m to go. It seemed that Capelle also didn't fancy his chances in a sprint against the very strong Kirsipuu, and took off with 600m to go, catching the rest by surprise. Kirsipuu wouldn't chase his former teammate - "I'd prefer to see a friend win, than one of the others" - and the other two could do nothing but watch Capelle ride away with the win.

Capelle crossed the line with 20 metres to spare on Kirsipuu, who had no problems beating Radochla for second. Knaven had to be content with fourth, his third top 10 placing in a big race in eight days. In the absence of McEwen, Erik Zabel had no problems in taking the bunch sprint for fifth.

So despite being held on a sprinter-friendly parcours, the Grote Scheldeprijs continued the tradition of fast, aggressive and exciting races that we have seen in Belgium so far this season.


Images by Jeff Tse/

Results - 206 km

1 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago    4.40.00 (44.1 km/h)
2 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
3 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Team Coast 
4 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                       0.01
6 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 
7 Allan Bo Andresen (Den) Team fakta 
8 Franck Pencole (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin 
9 Frank Hoj (Den) Team fakta 
10 Eric Baumann (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
11 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
12 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Team Telekom 
13 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Cycling Team 
14 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 
15 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
16 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
17 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 
18 Fabien De Waele (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 
19 Roger Hammond (GBr) Palmans-Collstrop 
20 Mikhail Timochine (Rus) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
21 Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
22 Arvis Piziks (Lat) Team CSC 
23 Lauri Aus (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
24 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 
25 Malte Urban (Ger) Team Coast 
26 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 
27 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 
28 Régis Lhuillier (Fra) 
29 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team fakta 
30 Erki Pütsep (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
31 Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 
32 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 
33 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank 
34 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 
35 Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den) Team CSC 
36 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) 
37 Hendrik Van Dijck (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 
38 Christoph Von Kleinsorgen (Ger) Team Coast 
39 Yuri Mitlushenko (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
40 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 
41 Rik Reinerink (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 
42 Mickael Pichon (Fra) 
43 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 
44 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
45 Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Coast 
46 Henk Vogels (Aus) Navigators Cycling Team 
47 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 
48 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team fakta 
49 Andrei Mizourov (Kaz) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin 
50 Stéphane Barthe (Fra) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin 
51 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 
52 Bogdan Bondariew (Ukr) CCC-Polsat 
53 Matthew Gilmore (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 
54 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Telekom 
55 Serguei Lelekin (Rus) Tenax 
56 Frederik Willems (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 
57 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) MBK-Oktos-Saint-Quentin 
58 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
59 Markus Knöpfle (Ger) Tenax 
60 André Korff (Ger) Team Coast 
61 Danny Daelman (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 
62 Jürgen Landrie (Bel) 
63 Thorsten Rund (Ger) Team Coast 
64 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Rabobank 
65 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
66 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
67 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Cycling Team 
68 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 
69 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 
70 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Team CSC 
71 Erik Lievens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
72 Bjorn Cornelissen (Ned) 
73 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Tenax 
74 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom 
75 Steven De Neef (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 
76 Mark Scanlon (Irl) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
77 Timo Scholz (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
78 Ronald Mutsaars (Ned) Rabobank 
79 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Telekom 
80 Stephan Schreck (Ger) Team Telekom 
81 Gerben Löwik (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 
82 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Team Telekom 
83 Björn Schröder (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 
84 Chris Wherry (USA) Navigators Cycling Team 
85 Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) 
86 Tom Steels (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
87 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
88 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo 
89 Stéphane Berges (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
90 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 
91 Geert Omloop (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 
92 Jean-Michel Tessier (Fra) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 
93 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) 
94 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 
95 Johan Dekkers (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 
96 Marco Battiston (Ita) Tenax
97 Johan Verstrepen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 
98 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Team fakta 
99 Robert Bartko (Ger) Rabobank 
100 Martin Hvastija (Slo) Tenax 
101 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 
102 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
103 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 
104 Dariusz Skoczylas (Pol) CCC-Polsat 
105 Siro Camponogara (Ita) Navigators Cycling Team 
106 Carlos Dacruz (Fra) 
107 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank 
108 Michael Skelde (Den) Team fakta 
109 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance 
110 Julian Dean (NZl) Team CSC 
111 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 
112 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Lotto-Domo 
113 Werner Riebenbauer (Aut) Team fakta 
Starters: 163  
Classified: 113  

Past winners

2002 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco        205 km in 4.54.00
2001 Endrio Leoni (Ita) Alessio              208 km in 4.49.00
2000 Endrio Leoni (Ita) Alessio              200 km in 4.24.00
1999 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM-Farm Frites 201 km in 4.35.00
1998 Servais Knaven (Ned) TVM-Farm Frites    203 km in 4.19.19
1997 Erik Zabel (Ger)
1996 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel)
1995 Rossano Brassi (Ita)
1994 Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
1993 Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1992 Wilfried Nelissen (Bel)
1991 Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1990 John Talen (Ned)
1989 Jean-Marie Wampers (Bel)
1988 Jean-Paul Van Poppel (Ned)
1987 Etienne De Wilde (Bel)
1986 Jean-Paul Van Poppel (Ned)
1985 Adri Van der Poel (Ned)
1984 Ludo Peeters (Bel)
1983 Jan Bogaert (Bel)
1982 Ludo Schurgers (Bel)
1981 Ad Wijnands (Ned)
1980 Ludo Peeters (Bel)
1979 Daniel Willems (Bel)
1978 Dietrich Thurau (Ger)
1977 Marc Demeyer (Bel)
1976 Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1975 Ronald Dewitte (Bel)
1974 Marc Demeyer (Bel)
1973 Freddy Maertens (Bel)
1972 Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1971 Gustaaf Van Roosbroeck (Bel)
1970 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1969 Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1968 Edward Sels (Bel)
1967 Paul In 'T'Ven (Bel)
1966 Joseph Spruyt (Bel)
1965 Willy Vannitsen (Bel)
1964 Joseph Hoevenaers (Bel)
1963 Piet Oellibrandt (Bel)
1962 Piet Oellibrandt (Bel)
1961 Raymond Vrancken (Bel)
1960 Piet Oellibrandt (Bel)
1959 Willy Butzen (Bel)
1958 Raymond Vrancken (Bel)
1957 Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1956 Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1955 Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1954 Roger Decock (Bel)
1953 Hans Dekkers (Ned)
1952 Roger Decorte (Bel)
1951 Ernest Sterckx (Bel)
1950 André Pieters (Bel)
1949 Roger Decorte (Bel)
1948 Achiel Buysse (Bel)
1947 René Mertens (Bel)
1946 Stan Ockers (Bel)
1943 Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)
1942 Lode Busschops (Bel)
1941 Stan Ockers (Bel)
1939 Achiel Buysse (Bel)
1938 Antoine Dignef (Bel)
1937 Sylvain Grysolle (Bel)
1936 Marcel Van Schil (Bel)
1935 Gerard Loncke (Bel)
1934 Léon Tommies (Bel)
1933 Horemans (Bel)
1932 Godefried De Vocht (Bel)
1931 Godefried De Vocht (Bel)
1930 Denis Verschueren (Bel)
1929 Joseph Wauters (Bel) 
1928 Joseph Dervaes (Bel)
1927 Georges Ronsse (Bel)
1926 Joseph Dervaes (Bel)
1924 René Vermandel (Bel)
1923 Emile Thollembbek (Bel)
1922 Florence Van den Bergh (Bel)
1921 René Vermandel (Bel)
1919 Isidoor Mechant (Bel)
1908 A. Kranskans (Bel)
1907 Maurice Leturgie (Fra)
Past winners by Mario Stiehl,