Russian sprinter Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) captured second place in the 99th edition of the Scheldeprijs in Belgium behind winner Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad). After a tumultuous sprint finish that saw last year's winner Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) crash, the runner-up was thankful for the support of his teammates.
“I'm very happy,” Galimzyanov told Cyclingnews. “Not only for my second place but also because of how the team worked for me the whole day long. Even when I crashed twice they brought me back to the first rows of the peloton.”
Galimzyanov was brought back to the front in the final kilometres before narrowly avoiding the massive crash at the front of the peloton. While men like Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek) and Farrar went down in the finishing straight in Schoten near Antwerp, Galimzyanov avoided the carnage and grabbed second place.
“Our team set-up the sprint and then HTC-Highroad took over,” he said. “I wanted to get on Cavendish's wheel. I was on his right side and the next second they went down on his left side.
“I was very lucky to avoid the crash as it was very close to me. In Paris-Nice [stage 3] I was very lucky, too, when [Peter] Sagan crashed. Then it was very close to me as well.”
Katusha content with second place in the “world championships of sprinting”
Katusha directeur sportif Serge Parsani was pleased with Galimzyanov’s showing in Schoten and said that it offered further confirmation of the progress that the young Russian has made since the beginning of the season. Galimzyanov won stage two of the Three Days of De Panne last week, and measured up well against some of the world’s top sprinters at Scheldeprijs.
“We can call this race a world championships of sprinting, because all of the strongest sprinters in the world apart from Petacchi were here, so that means that second place behind Cavendish is a good result,” Parsani told Cyclingnews. “I think this confirms a little of what he showed in De Panne last week and in Qatar too. He has had second and third places in races where there weren’t riders of such quality, but this will bring him on even further.”
After Katusha’s Vladimir Isaichev and the early breakaway had been swept up with 22km to go, the Russian squad was a visible presence on the front of the peloton, and Parsani acknowledged that their attempts to control the race were indicative of the trust they have in Galimzyanov’s rapid finish.
“We knew that there was a 99% chance of a sprint so we managed our riders to give him a hand in the finale to get him to the sprint in the best possible condition,” Parsani said.
At just 24 years of age, Parsani is confident that Galimzyanov will grow into a important role at the Katusha team for years to come.
“He’s a boy who certainly has a quick turn of pace, and he also has a big margin for improvement,” Parsani said. “It’s his second year as a professional, he has needed to get used to things, but you can see how he is adapting. He has character, and he’s someone who we will look towards in the future."