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On the start line of Scheldeprijs

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A serene-looking Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

A serene-looking Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Quick Step, Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC's team buses benefited from a police escort to the start

Quick Step, Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC's team buses benefited from a police escort to the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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The HTC-Columbia crew

The HTC-Columbia crew
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) is a favourite for today's race

Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) is a favourite for today's race
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia)

Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Team Sky are presented

Team Sky are presented
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Saxo Bank's Specializeds mixed in with a few of Sky's Pinarellos

Saxo Bank's Specializeds mixed in with a few of Sky's Pinarellos
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto) will be hoping to hold form for Paris-Roubaix

Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto) will be hoping to hold form for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Fabian Cancellara answers questions, while Stuart O'Grady and Matti Breschel discuss matters on stage

Fabian Cancellara answers questions, while Stuart O'Grady and Matti Breschel discuss matters on stage
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Gustav Erik Larsson and Fabian Cancellara

Gustav Erik Larsson and Fabian Cancellara
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) have a chin-wag at the start

Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) have a chin-wag at the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Theo Bos will be in Cervelo's team for Paris-Roubaix

Theo Bos will be in Cervelo's team for Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Rivals on the bike, mates off: Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) chat at the start in Antwerp

Rivals on the bike, mates off: Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) chat at the start in Antwerp
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is making his comeback from illness at Scheldeprijs

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is making his comeback from illness at Scheldeprijs
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) arrives at the start on Wednesday morning

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) arrives at the start on Wednesday morning
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) rides towards his teammates

Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) rides towards his teammates
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Current Danish national Champion Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) chats with former Danish Champion Lars Bak (HTC-Columbia)

Current Danish national Champion Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) chats with former Danish Champion Lars Bak (HTC-Columbia)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia) makes some adjustments to his radio

Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia) makes some adjustments to his radio
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Saxo Bank's team car was running a little bit late for the start

Saxo Bank's team car was running a little bit late for the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Team cars wait for their signal to go

Team cars wait for their signal to go
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Traffic jam, Belgian style

Traffic jam, Belgian style
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Dennis van Winden (Rabobank) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil)

Dennis van Winden (Rabobank) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Bobbie Traksel (Vacansoleil) chat on their way to the start

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Bobbie Traksel (Vacansoleil) chat on their way to the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) finished second last year and has high hopes this season

Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) finished second last year and has high hopes this season
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Nico Eckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly) is incredibly popular

Nico Eckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly) is incredibly popular
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Ceramica Flaminia race in Belgium

Ceramica Flaminia race in Belgium
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Defending Scheldeprijs champion Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)

Defending Scheldeprijs champion Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Danilo Hondo (Lampre-Farnese Vini)

Danilo Hondo (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Quick Step wait to sign-on

Quick Step wait to sign-on
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) signs an autograph

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) signs an autograph
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Win The Tour of Flanders and this is what happens

Win The Tour of Flanders and this is what happens
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Robbie McEwen (Katusha) lives not too far from Antwerp

Robbie McEwen (Katusha) lives not too far from Antwerp
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Euskaltel-Euskadi wait for their turn to attend the stage

Euskaltel-Euskadi wait for their turn to attend the stage
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Vacansoleil's Borut Bozic (third right) could be a man to watch today

Vacansoleil's Borut Bozic (third right) could be a man to watch today
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Vacansoleil's Romain Feillu signs-on in Antwerp

Vacansoleil's Romain Feillu signs-on in Antwerp
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)

Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team) arrives at the sign-on

Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team) arrives at the sign-on
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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George Hincapie (BMC-Racing Team)

George Hincapie (BMC-Racing Team)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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The crowd outside Antwerp's town hall

The crowd outside Antwerp's town hall
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Jimmy Casper's Gitane was the only one in his team without top-mount brake levers

Jimmy Casper's Gitane was the only one in his team without top-mount brake levers
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun)

Jimmy Casper (Saur-Sojasun)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Saur-Sojasun are presented to the Antwerp crowd

Saur-Sojasun are presented to the Antwerp crowd
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Almost every Saur-Sojasun was running what looked to be their Paris-Roubaix bikes

Almost every Saur-Sojasun was running what looked to be their Paris-Roubaix bikes
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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A bruised and battered Geert Steurs

A bruised and battered Geert Steurs
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Skil-Shimano's Robin Chaigneau

Skil-Shimano's Robin Chaigneau
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator are presented

Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator are presented
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) always looks happy to be racing

Steve Chainel (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) always looks happy to be racing
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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A number of Bbox Bouygues Telecom riders were running Colnago cyclo-cross bikes

A number of Bbox Bouygues Telecom riders were running Colnago cyclo-cross bikes
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Lazlo Bodrogi and Filippo Pozzato wait for their Katusha teammates

Lazlo Bodrogi and Filippo Pozzato wait for their Katusha teammates
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is making his comeback from illness at Scheldeprijs

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is making his comeback from illness at Scheldeprijs
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) could get a chance to sprint today

Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank) could get a chance to sprint today
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Graeme Brown (Rabobank)

Graeme Brown (Rabobank)
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Ag2R-La Mondiale head back to their team bus after signing on

Ag2R-La Mondiale head back to their team bus after signing on
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) answers questions before the start

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) answers questions before the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Steve Cozza has come into the Garmin-Transitions roster for Scheldeprijs

Steve Cozza has come into the Garmin-Transitions roster for Scheldeprijs
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Garmin-Transitions

Garmin-Transitions
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Transitions) climbs onto the stage

Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Transitions) climbs onto the stage
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Transitions) searches for a place to perch his bike

Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Transitions) searches for a place to perch his bike
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) arrives at the sign-on

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) arrives at the sign-on
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Servais Knaven lines up with his Milram teammates

Servais Knaven lines up with his Milram teammates
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Team Milram before the start

Team Milram before the start
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)
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Team buses lined up in Antwerp

Team buses lined up in Antwerp
(Image credit: Richard Tyler)

Blue skies and warm sunshine greeted the spectators at the start of the 98th Scheldeprijs, in Belgium. As the riders and team buses gathered in the city centre of Antwerp, local hero Tom Boonen (Quick Step) soon became the centre of attention, even receiving a police escort to the race.

Ahead of the peloton lay 205.4 kilometres of racing. The course generally favours a bunch sprint, with the finish circuit in the Antwerp suburb of Schoten giving the sprinters' teams plenty of opportunity to organise their lead-outs.

With many of the Paris-Roubaix favourites using the race as training, a sprint off between defending champion Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Thor Hushovd (Cervelo), André Greipel (HTC-Columbia), Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano), and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) was the prediction on many people's lips.