Finishing third in the Scheldeprijs semi-classic, behind well-respected sprinters as Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Robbie McEwen (Katusha), is a great achievement. The Flemish one-day race is highly rated among the sprinters in the peloton and Robert Förster (Milram) came close to adding his name next to that of Alessandro Petacchi, last year's winner on the Churchill-boulevard in Schoten, near Antwerp.
"These were the mini-world championships for sprinters," Förster said, while taking note of the absence of Mark Cavendish (HTC - Columbia).
Förster is a well-respected sprinter who has won stages in the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, but failed to break through completely when he battled the best in the world during the Tour de France. His last major win came three years ago during the 2007 Giro d'Italia's fifth stage in Frascati when he held off Thor Hushovd for the win. During the Scheldeprijs the German pulled off one of his best sprints in years against the best in the world.
"Today Farrar clearly was the fastest in the sprint. I can be satisfied. This is my first podium ever in the Scheldeprijs," the 32-year-old German said.
Farrar clearly was the man to watch during the 98th Scheldeprijs as Förster focused on the American during his sprint. "With 500 meters to go I was fighting with McEwen for Farrar's wheel. We both ended up riding in the wind and then Robbie told me, 'stay on my wheel', which I did," Förster said. "I noticed that Boonen started his sprint early, apparently leading it out for Weylandt. Eventually more than third wasn't possible today."
When asked whether he would be taking his good form to use over the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix the German was happy to say that he was staying home. "My body might be suited for the cobbles but I won't be there. I'll be watching the race with a cola and chips in front of the TV," a smiling Förster said while walking away from the finish in Schoten.