The team leader for the star-studded Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team at the Scheldeprijs was a somewhat unexpected name. In the absence of the team's dedicated sprinter Mark Cavendish, who's recovering from a fever, it was neither Tom Boonen, nor Mark Renshaw nor Gert Steegmans, but forty year-old Alessandro Petacchi who tried to finish the work from his team-mates in Schoten.
A second victory for Ale-Jet didn't happen as German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) all passed him in the final metres. After crossing the line Petacchi was down-hearted to finish off the podium. He explained that he briefly hesitated to start his sprint, waiting for Steegmans to swing to the right. It might have cost him the podium.
"I tried to do the podium, after five years. When I won in 2009 it was different. Today I waited to start my sprint because I didn't understand if they wanted to go left or right. I wanted to go left, but I waited for Gert to go right because it would be early because of the wind. Kittel started before me but for sure the same would win," Petacchi said.
The Italian veteran was surprised himself to be the team's leader at the Scheldeprijs. Only after the final trip over the cobbles of the Broekstraat, which featured in the local circuit of 16.4km, Petacchi told his teammates that he was feeling good enough to do the sprint.
"This morning the team asked me to try the sprint. After the cobble stones I told the guys OK, I try. Today I had a really good team. In the last lap the break had too much," Petacchi described the final kilometres in which the six-man breakaway group was caught quite late. Thanks to the work from Tom Boonen and Stijn Vandenbergh the gap was eventually closed within the final two kilometres. Renshaw and Steegmans tried to lead out their Italian teammate. Petacchi explained he tried but realized he wasn't up for the job just yet.
"Normally I train always for Mark for the lead-out. After Sanremo I was a little sick, like many guys, because of the cold. I'm happy with my condition now," Petacchi said.
Petacchi explained he will probably race the Tour of Turkey and then the Giro d'Italia. "If I go to the Giro I'll try some sprints because Mark is not in the Giro. Afterwards it's really important to ride the Tour in good condition for Mark. In the Tour, for sure with me, Mark, Steegmans and Renshaw we have a big team."