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Scheldeprijs 2012


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews's live coverage of Scheldeprijs.

The fun and games continue in Belgium, with today's Scheldeprijs. No repeat champion this year, as Mark Cavendish is giving it a skip.  But there are lots of other big names here ready to jump atop the podium.

This is not Dan, by the way, but Susan. I will be starting us off again today.

We have a total of 202km to go today.  We start off with 153km, followed by three laps of a 16.4km circuit course. It starts at 12:15 with the neutralized start in Antwerpen, with the “real” start coming 15 minutes later in Schotten. Which is exactly where it will end up about four and a half hours later.

Surely everyone knows by now why Cavendish is not here today to try for his fourth win in the race. The reason is his brand-new baby daughter Delilah Grace, born yesterday.  And yes, she is just as speedy as her famous dad, arriving two days early.  Congratulations to Mom, Dad and daughter!

What's the profile like today?  Flat.  And a lot of it.

We assume that the peloton has started its stately and slow procession through Antwerpen by now.

Yes, indeed, the 100th Scheldeprijs has started!

And why is this called the Scheldeprijs?  Because it starts along the banks of the Schelde River. That was easy, wasn't it?

The race was first held in 1907, with both start and finish in Antwerpen.  It was won by French rider Maurice Leturgie.  Believe it or not, there were no further non-Belgian winners until 1953.

The race celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007, but this is the 100th running.  It was not held 1915-1917, and  in 1940, 1944 and 1945.

One big name was not at the start today, Stuart O'Grady of GreenEdge. We don't yet know why.

And they're off! The flag has fallen and the attacks may start!

The race has not gotten off to a good start for David Boucher of FDJ, who promptly came down with a flat tyre. Oops!

After all those zillions of Belgian winners over the years, the last Belgian to win the race did so in 2004 and 2006. The name of that winner sounds vaguely familiar – Tom Boonen, anyone?

Oh, and have we mentioned we have cobblestones today? Seven sections of them, from 1300 to 3000 meters long.

196km remaining from 202km

So which former winners do we have here today?  The aforementioned Boonen, for one. And Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Barracuda. The only other winner in recent years, Alessandro Petacchi, is not here as his team is not participating.

Looking a little further back, we see a whole bunch of big names who have added this win to their palmares: Eddy Merckx, Mario Cipollini, Roger De Vlaeminck, and Erik Zabel, just to name a few.

186km remaining from 202km

185km remaining from 202km

182km remaining from 202km

178km remaining from 202km

Should Boonen win today, he will tie two other riders for the most wins here, three each:  Cavendish (2007, 2008 and 2011) and Piet Oellibrandt (1960, 1962 and 1963).

The great Johan Museeuw surprisingly never won here, with his highest placings being two second-place finishes. Still, he chose it as his farewell race. “I could have retired after Paris–Roubaix but I felt it important that my last race should be in Belgium. The Scheldeprijs is a great race and I especially love the start in Antwerp market place,” he said.

173km remaining from 202km

Just to make things all neat and tidy, here is our situation with 173km still to go:

Arnaud Demare of FDJ got off to a torrid start this year, with four wins already.  But a tumble in the Three Days of De Panne gave him a wrist injury which he has been unable to shake off.  That knocks the 2011 U23 world champion out of both this race and Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

164km remaining from 202km

160km remaining from 202km

As you might imagine, the peloton is not real happy with this situation. Various teams have sent riders up to do lead work, but there is no serious chase being organised.  Not yet, anyway.

155km remaining from 202km

And I will now hand off to Barry Ryan, who is on the scene. All yours!

Kevin Hulsmans has been very visible these past few weeks in Belgium as part of an aggressive Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team, and he's contributing richly to the break here.

Hulsmans is representing the interests of Andrea Guardini in this break, and Cyclingnews caught up with the Italian sprinter before the start in Antwerp this morning. "I haven’t raced much in Belgium, last year I only did France-Belge up here, but I am fascinated by racing here, and I think routes like the one today are quite suited to me too," Guardini said.

Traditionally a race for the sprinters, Guardini is looking to follow in the footsteps of Cavendish, Farrar, Boonen et al by taking the spoils in Schoten this afternoon. "Looking at the palmares of this race, I can see that almost all of the best sprinters in the world have won it at some stage, so it would be great to add my name to that list," he said. "My last race was the Coppi and Bartali and even though I didn’t succeed in doing a good sprint, my form was good. I’m coming here motivated after a week at home and we’ll be trying to do a decent race and finish it off with a strong sprint."

As expected, it was a rapid first hour of racing as that early break established itself. The average speed was a searing 47.3kph, but things have since settled down. The pace will of course rocket skywards again as the bunch approaches the finishing circuit in Schoten.


With Boonen-mania in full swing all across Flanders, Omega Pharma-QuickStep's local rivals Lotto-Belisol have spent the past few weeks very much in the shade. Marc Sergeant's squad failed to make an impact at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, but Andre Greipel lines up as one of the favourites for victory today.

Greipel began the season in stunning form at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Oman, but it's all been a little quieter since then. Speaking before the start, the German warned that the sprint finish at Scheldeprijs is rarely straightforward. "It's usually a pretty messy sprint. It’s not a real sprint. But we'll try as always," he said. "I think my rivals for the win will be people like Tyler Farrar and Hutarovich. It's always a good rider who wins here."

Garmin-Barracuda are a prominent presence on the front end of the peloton, and their efforts are helping to whittle down the break's advantage. Five minutes the gap.

Garmin-Barracuda are of course protecting the interests of Tyler Farrar. Yesterday, Cyclingnews joined the Ghent resident on a relaxed training ride with Andreas Klier, as the pair looked to recover from their exertions at the Tour of Flanders.

Garmin-Barracuda are of course protecting the interests of Tyler Farrar. Yesterday, Cyclingnews joined the Ghent resident on a relaxed training ride with Andreas Klier, as the pair looked to recover from their exertions at the Tour of Flanders.

Two chasers were trapped in the no-man's land between the peloton and the break for the past hour or so, but race radio is now reporting that Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Kin San Wu (Champion System) have made it across to the leaders.

A correction to the make-up of the seven man break. Race radio had initially reported that Gorik Gardeyn and Marc de Maar were the two riders had bridged across from the peloton after the move first went clear, but it now seems that it was Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Kin San Wu (Champion System) who made it across. As soon as the television pictures begin to be transmitted in the press room, we will be able to confirm that this is indeed the case.

125km remaining from 202km

So much Flemish racing is centred around Kortrijk, Ghent and Oudenaarde, but the action moved a little further east today to Antwerp. April is a special month in Belgium and there was a festive atmosphere at the start this morning. Check out our startline gallery

115km remaining from 202km

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) will expect to be in contention in the finale in Schoten this afternoon, and here are their thoughts on Scheldeprijs before the start.

The pace slowed slightly in the second hour of racing, but it's still been a pretty brisk affair to date. 45kph the average speed so far.

The last time check we have places the break 4:45 clear, and the seven escapees may have a change to extend that advantage slightly as the peloton is briefly detained behind a level crossing.

93km remaining from 202km

The chase has yet to be organised in the peloton, but there's plenty of time before the finishing circuit in Schoten. Quite a mix of jerseys at the front end of the bunch, but there's no real cohesion to the pursuit so far, even if Lotto Belisol and Garmin-Barracuda are both represented at the head of the field.

The cohesion of the break is briefly broken by David Boucher, who careers to the left hand side of the road to enthusiastically salute some friends on the roadside. He's quickly back into the fray, taking his place in the pace line.

Boucher is now driving on the front in his familiar squat style, before the more languid Kevin Hulsmans follows through behind.

86km remaining from 202km

Mechanical problems for Steve Houanard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), but the speed in the main field has yet to pick up, so he should have little difficulty in getting back on.

82km remaining from 202km

Lotto-Belisol are beginning to make their presence felt at the head of the peloton. Greipel himself sits in fifth wheel keeping a close eye on proceedings.

78km remaining from 202km

The light blue of Omega Pharma-QuickStep has scarcely been seen so far, but the team has been far and away the strongest of the season thus far, and they have a number of options in today's race. Tom Boonen insists that he is here to turn his legs over ahead of Paris-Roubaix, and the team's efforts are likely to be focused around fast man Francesco Chicchi this afternoon.

72km remaining from 202km

70km remaining from 202km

66km remaining from 202km

The cobbled section did cause some problems for Dominique Rollin (FDJ-BigMat) however. The Canadian punctured midway through, but he'll have no problem in getting back on.

There's been a perceptible shift in the pace of the peloton over the past ten kilometres. Lotto-Belisol are beginning to open the chase in earnest on behalf of Andre Greipel and the break's lead is sliced to 4:40.

Despite the endless series of speed bumps the race hasn’t been marred by any crashes so far. Before the official start things were different as Lucas Sebastien Haedo (Saxo Bank) hit the deck when lining up for the start. Kenny Van Hummel (Landbouwkrediet-DCM) and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-Big Mat) went down when exiting Antwerp towards the official start in Schoten.

60km remaining from 202km

Kevin Hulsmans drops back to the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team car for a lengthy conference with directeur sportif Serge Parsani. The Italian team's efforts today are built around the sprinting talents of Andrea Guardini.

The leaders are now approaching Schoten and the first passage of the finishing line. In a nice touch, the lamp posts at the roadside are bedecked with posters of the previous winners of the race. 2012 is the 100th edition of Scheldeprijs.

Hulsmans leads the break over another cobbled section, while back in the main field, the repeated traffic islands are causing confusion, but mercifully no falls.

55km remaining from 202km

As soon as asphalt turns to cobblestone, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) accelerates off the front of the peloton and strings things out. He's still in his leg warmers, but it doesn't mean that Boonen hasn't come here to contribute to the racing.

52km remaining from 202km

Boonen's cameo has strung out the peloton into one big line. The Belgian and his team have been in enviable form since the start of the season, and their exhibition seems set to continue on the finishing circuit here.

Tellingly, when Boonen swings over, the long snaking line of the peloton begins to rearrange itself into a bunch.

49km remaining from 202km

As the peloton comes through the finish line for the first time, they are 3:15 down on the peloton, and it's Lotto-Belisol who are massed on the front.

Lotto-Belisol DS Herman Frison spoke with Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwe at the start in Antwerp. The team hasn’t been lucky so far with the absence of Jurgen Roelandts leaving them without a team leader in the classics. At the Scheldeprijs the team found a race that should suit their fast man André Greipel. After double stage victories at the Tour Down Under and The German power house stopped dominating the bunch sprints in recent weeks.

“André puts the pressure on himself because he knows there were some missed opportunities while he had good legs. We don’t blame him for anything because we fight with the weapons we have. Due to circumstance we can’t ride the sprints like we hoped to at the start of the season. We had a train Down Under but ever since that race we never had all those guys together again. In normal conditions we would have Lars Bak, Vicente Reynes, Marcel Sieberg, Jurgen Roelandts in this race. We can’t expect that our young guys can set up a train. Especially in the Scheldeprijs it’s very hard because riders keep coming around from behind on these wide roads. The goal is to win and though that wouldn’t make up for our spring classics season but it would offer some salvation,” Frison said.

42km remaining from 202km

Boonen's acceleration on the cobbles stoked a strong response from Lotto-Belisol and the gap between the break and the peloton is beginning to unravel as the pace continues to rise.

Simon Lambert-Lemay leads the break over the cobbles at Broekstraat, but it will be interesting to see if there's any movement in the peloton when they reach the same point.

Boucher takes over at the front of the race, grimly determined to keep the break alive as they exit the cobbles once again.

Vladimir Isaichev (Katusha) opens a small gap over the peloton as they rattle over the cobbles at Broekstraat.

As he glances over his shoulder, however, the Russian can see the collective might of Omega Pharma-QuickStep bearing down on him. Patrick Lefevere's team has enjoyed a remarkable run of form this season. It is difficult to believe the number of wins and winners they have had to date. An incredible turnaround from last year.

Omega Pharma-QuickStep's eight riders are occupying the first eight positions in the peloton, while everyone else battles for position in their collective slipstream.

35km remaining from 202km

33km remaining from 202km

The remainder of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep armada has faded back into the bunch for now, and it's Vacansoleil-DCM and Katusha who are on the front.

A crash near the front of the main field as they come around the sharp corner after the finish line. Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ-BigMat), Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Jaroslaw Marycz (Saxo Bank) were among the riders brought down by a touch of wheels.

Meanwhile, Luca Paolini (Katusha) has joined Tom Boonen on the front of the peloton. The Tour of Flanders winner isn't holding much back as he works in the service of Francesco Chicchi.

The crash looks to have caught out quite a number of riders. Boonen and Paolini are driving a group of only 50 riders or so, while the remainder of the peloton is trying to chase back on.

Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) was among the riders caught out, but he's made his way back on as part of a small group. The rest of the field is almost within touching distance of the Boonen group.

At this rate, they'll have their work cut out to get back on. Boonen is still hammering on the front and the gap to the remnants of the field is stretching out. There are plenty of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Sky and Garmin-Cervelo jerseys in the Boonen group too.

25km remaining from 202km


Boucher takes over at the front of the break, which is now down to five riders. They won't last long at the front now, however. Luca Paolini drives at the head of the peloton over the cobbles at Broekstraat.

Kin San Wu (Champion System), Kin San Wu (Champion System) and Kevin Van Melsen (Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda's) are swallowed by the front end of the peloton, which seems to contain around 60 riders.

22km remaining from 202km

The rain which has been threatening all afternoon is finally began to pour over Schoten. It could be a treacherous final lap of the finishing circuit.

Meanwhile the gap between the two halves of the peloton is 22 seconds. With Boonen driving on the front again, they'll hardly make up that gap before the end.

Susan Westemeyer will take over for the final lap of the action.

Susan back again, how lovely, rain....

The gap is 15 seconds, with Katusha leading the charge.

The four in front are starting to look a bit desperate.  It was a good run, guys, but you ought to have known what would inevitably happen.

Vandousselaere keeps going,while the othere three more or less wait for the field. Now Hulsmans joins him.

Hulsmans goes into the lead now,while the field gobbles up two riders.

He has 11 seconds.

12km remaining from 202km

Garmin-Barracuda is in the lead of the field now.

Everyone passes under the 10km marker, and only seconds later, Hulsmans is back in the peloton.

Everyone all together now,and likely to stay that way to the end.

Garmin is still in the lead as they hit the cobbles again. Now Bernie Eisel of Sky moves to teh front.

7km to go and a big crash. we think everyone is getting up again, but no.....

At least two riders require medical assistance.

Wet roads -- not good.

We can see that the road is very wet now, and it is still coming down.

The field has of course split because of that crash.  Maybe 40-50 riders in the first group.  As far as we know all the big names are there.

And then a huge gap.  In fact, we barely can find the next riders.

3km to go.

Garmin still grinding it out in front.

And now Sky takes over.

Another crash.

Four riders down.  Three of them sloooooow gettting up.

Final km -- let's all make it to the finish, ok?

Rabobank leds the way, and then Farrar takes off.

Kittel moves into the lead, and it looks like he takes the race ahead of Farrar.

And another crash just afer the finish line.

That is the first win for Team Argos-Shimano.  Congratulations to them!

Someone is still down on the road after that post-finish crash, a Saxo Bank rider.

We don't know what happened in that cash.

We understand that a Europcar rider is also still down afer that crash.  We now see at least one rider being loaded into an ambulance.

The top ten:

We now hear it is not a rider going to hospital but a photographer who was involved in the crash.  We wish him and all who crashed today:  get well soon!

And congratulations again to Kittel and Argo-Shimano.

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