The crowd at Scheldeprijs was happy to see big-name sprinters Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) on the podium after the hectic high-speed sprint. However the third man on the podium, Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM), was was a relatively unknown rider for most of the spectators, even if he is expected to show his talent as a sprinter in the near future.
"Finishing third is unbelievable. All the big sprinters are here. To finish on the podium is something I'm really proud of. What the future will bring? Well, of course I hope to win this race one day," Markus told Cyclingnews in Schoten.
As an U23-rider Markus showed off his skills and fast finish more than once. Back in 2010 he even beat today's cycling stars John Degenkolb and Taylor Phinney in a bunch sprint in the Thüringen Rundfahrt. While Degenkolb and Phinney quickly catapulted themselves to a high level, it was clear that Barry - who's a bit younger too - needed more time to mature. His recent results show that the Dutchman has stepped up a level to be able to mix in with the best. When asked about what type of sprinter he was Markus described himself as one with a jump in the final metres.
"I'm not the type of sprinter to start from far out. I'm more someone who has to come out of the wheels at 200 metres from the finish," Markus said.
During this year's Tour of Qatar he twice finished as runner-up behind Mark Cavendish, the fastest sprinter in the world. Finishing as best of the rest behind Cavendish is an achievement he is proud of. In the Scheldeprijs he once again finished behind the Manxman.
"I didn't have any more power left to get past Kittel and Cavendish passed me too," Markus said.
Markus managed to get himself in the perfect position for the sprint. "During most of the last lap I tried to stay near the front. On the cobbles I was riding around twentieth position. Along the canal there was a lot of pushing going on. During the last one and a half kilometres I was moved up by myself. Actually I was still too far back at one kilometre from the finish but then with 400 metres to go I got on the wheel of Kittel and that's where I stayed. I figured that was a good wheel to be on. Before that I was riding along the others so I wasn't really on a wheel," Markus said.
He was spotted shouldering his compatriot Theo Bos (Blanco) out of the way in an effort to overtake Kittel in the final metres.
"You have to do that in the final. We touched each other. I wanted to steer around him but he was next to me. I think it was all right. Those pushes, they happen all the time in the sprints," Markus said.
Barry Markus wasn't the protected sprinter for Scheldeprijs in the Vacansoleil-DCM team. Kenny van Hummer managed a third place back in 2009.
"Before the start Kenny said that he felt good. The plan was that we would meet up in the finale but I didn't see him anymore so I tried my own luck [laughs]. I didn't see anybody," Markus said confidently.
"Hopefully within two years I'll be amongst the best sprinters in the world. To achieve that I still need to get stronger so that I'm more fresh when I arrive in the finale."
After fighting the best in the world in the Scheldeprijs, Markus' next few races would be of a different level. He is scheduled to race the GP Pino Cerami on Thursday in Belgium and then the GP Denain and Tro Bro Léon in France.
"Afterwards there'll be stage races like the Tour of Picardie and Dunkirk. There's a high chance on bunch sprints there. The competition will be different of course," Markus said.
A Grand Tour is not on his schedule for now so Markus will have to wait for another chance to battle against the best in the world.
"The Giro and the Vuelta are quite tough this year and other riders are scheduled for the Tour. I don't know when I'll race against the best again but it'll come around one day for sure," Markus concluded.
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