Belgian veteran Niko 'Rambo' Eeckhout was not amused with the weak work of his breakaway companions in the 98th Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. The An Post-Sean Kelly team leader opted to go with the early move which nearly worked until attacks from within the group put paid to everyone's chances with 10km to go.
Making it into the early breakaway groups is a special discipline. One needs the strength, the speed, the will and some luck to make or follow the right acceleration during the first hour of a race. Once up front riders receive some attention and compliments for their efforts while hopefully making it into the race coverage.
50 kilometers were covered during the first hour of the race before eight riders set up the right attack. Featuring among the escapees were breakaway specialists like Eeckhout, Jonas Ljungblad (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Jackson Stewart (BMC), David Boucher (Agricole), Arnoud Van Groen (Vacansoleil), Cyril Lemoine (Saur), Grégory Joseph (Topsport Vlaanderen).
Their advantage on the peloton was more than six minutes at one point but when arriving on the local circuit around Schoten it was clear that the sprinter teams weren't planning to offer the leaders a glorious day. With twenty kilometers to go the gap dropped under the minute and attacks split the breakaway group apart, signing their death sentence.
Eeckhout tried to continue solo but quickly the 39 year-old rider realized that winning wasn't possible. Afterwards the muscular Belgian explained that he wasn't happy with the co-operation from some guys in the group.
"They weren't riding at 100%! They were saving their energy all day long. Especially that smurf from Lotto, what was he thinking?," Eeckhout fumed. "I knew before the start that it wouldn't be possible [to stay away] but you never know."
Although Eeckhout also has sprinting capabilities he didn't fancy his chances in Schoten. "The finish doesn't suit me, that's why I opted to go in the attack."