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Scheldeprijs 2016

Between Flanders and Paris-Roubaix we have Scheldeprijs and we're here on the startline for another dose of cobbles. 

 

This is very much the sprinters' race when compared to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and that's somewhat reflected in the start list. Still, there are a number of Roubaix specialists on at the start this morning as they hone their form ahead of Sunday's monument. 

 

The majority of the peloton have signed on and we have grey skies above with the threat of rain. The roll out should be made in the next 10 mins with a neutralised zone to follow before the official race start. 

 

 

One rider on the start is Tom Boonen. He has won this race twice, back in 2004 and 2006. He's here today to test out his legs after a difficult Tour of Flanders, in which he crashed. Today he may also be working for....

 

 

Marcel Kittel who is riding this race for the first time in Etixx kit. He won this race three times in a row from 2012-2014 and with Etixx desperate for a win in Belgium they'll be pinning all their hopes on the German sprinter.

 

Kittel certainly won't have it all his own way today though. Defending champion Alexander Kristoff was fourth in Flanders and is clearly in form. The Norwegian may not have hit the heights of 2015 but he's still one of the most dangerous rivals on Kittel's horizon. 

 

 The riders have now rolled out through the startline and are riding through the neutralised zone. 

 

One rider who missed the start was Peter Sagan. The world champion has gone through a few minutes after the rest of the peloton after being swamped by fans. The Tour of Flanders winner is the man of the moment, with all take centred around whether he can do the double and win Paris - Roubaix this weekend.

 

The peloton, with Sagan included, are almost done with the neutralized sector of the race. Typically a break goes in the first 30-40km of racing but a lot could depend on the conditions out there. If they have a headwind it could take a while for the race to splinter. The race is 207km in total and we're about to start the first one. 

 

 André Greipel was impressive during the Tour of Flanders and it will be interesting to see what he can do in Paris-Roubaix at the weekend. The German sprinter can handle himself in the Classics, not just the sprints, but today is right up his street. 

Mark Cavendish, who like Kittel has won this race on three occasions, is also in the peloton today. The British sprinter is dove-tailing his track ambitions with his road aims this season but you wouldn't bet against him competing for the sprint at the end of today's race - assuming it does finish in a bunch sprint of course. Cavendish is also down to ride Paris-Roubaix at the weekend but today he's got Eisel and Farrar to lead him out. Not a bad combination.

 

Elia Viviani, not Cavendish's biggest fan after the track worlds, is also on the startlist today. The Italian has hit the high notes regularly this season already but a win in this race would be significant in his palmares. He is backed up by a beefy-looking Sky team that includes Rowe, Stannard and the talented neo-pro Moscon.

 

.@marcelkittel motivated before the start of #SPS. https://t.co/tpOzi0T4Fl

@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 6th Apr 2016 10:40:49

Breaking news. Sagan pulled a wheelie at the start this morning...

 

... in the actual race, we have a peloton that has split in two after just a couple of kilometres.

 

194km remaining from 207km

A shade under 195km to go and the peloton are still split into two large groups. There are no time splits, and no names of the riders in front group. There's every indication that they'll come back together.

 

It seems you can't go a day without Sagan hitting the headlines, fair enough, consider he creates most of them with his riding but this story is based on his future. Tinkoff are set to end this year and are still searching for a new sponsor. Sagan has one year left on his existing deal but if there's no team then Sagan has to find somewhere else to ride. Here's the story from Stephen Farrand on where Sagan could end up.

 

In other news Steve Cummings new lease of life at Dimension Data goes on. The British rider is eye up a chance to make the break in Pais Vasco. He already won a fine stage in Tirreno last month. Here he talks to Alasdair Fotheringham for CN.

 

Another rider in form is Wilco Kelderman. The 25-year-old finished second to Landa yesterday on stage 2 of Pais Vasco, and who knows, maybe he can reach his potential later in the year and ride well at the Tour de France. Here's what he had to say after yesterday's performance

 

In the race there's been a re-forming but we no have five riders up the road:

 

Westra (Astana), Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), De Vries (Roompot) Tronet (Fortuneo), Denz (AG2R) and Kiendys (CCC). No time check at this moment in time. 

 

Also in the news is a story about Lance Armstrong and his ongoing court battles

 

185km remaining from 207km

Back in the race and a counter attack of three has been sniffed out. The six leaders, it's up to six now according to race radio, have 23 seconds on the peloton with 185km to go.

If you didn't know... we've joined the wonderful world of Instagram. It's what all the cool kids are doing these days and we're posting some truly great images on there now. Enjoy!

 

There's another counter attack from the peloton and this time it's a Wanty rider - Jérôme Baugnies  - who has gone clear. He's riding well and could make contact with the six leaders in the next few minutes. The break of six have a minute on the peloton, so that's probably our break of the day. 

 

.@tomboonen1 - the last Belgian winner of #SPS. https://t.co/4cxYdei6xY

@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 6th Apr 2016 11:12:18

Baugnies is starting to suffer. He's a minute down on the leaders, while the main field is drifting out to three minutes. 

 

172km remaining from 207km

A reminder of the leaders on the road - Westra (Astana), Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), De Vries (Roompot) Tronet (Fortuneo), Denz (AG2R) and Kiendys (CCC).

 

They have four minutes on the peloton.

 

#SPS 6 riders have about 4' after 35km. Their names: Westra, Helven, de Vries, Tronet, Denz and Klendys.

@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 6th Apr 2016 11:27:56

156km remaining from 207km

Baugnies is dropping back even further and is now just over two minutes down on the leading six, which include De Panne winner Westra. The peloton riding tempo, four minutes back on the leaders. 

 

Baugnies has been swallowed up by the peloton, so after 50km of racing the break have roughly 3:30 over the chasing peloton. 

 

The peloton have at least started to up their game, cutting 45 seconds off the break's lead with just over 150km to go.

 

Interestingly the wind has started to pick up and that could change the dynamic of the race. If teams like Etixx, who ride so well in the cross winds, can split the peloton they will try at any opportunity. 

 

The peloton have eased up again, thus allowing the break to move back out to 4'45. That's the biggest that the gap has been throughout the day. 

 

137km remaining from 207km

The break continue to hold their lead over the peloton but Katusha, Etixx, and Lotto have moved up towards the front.

 

Cavendish:

“You need a good sprint to win here and you need a strong team to ride the final,” he said. “Renshaw’s out with a bruise, so we're down to seven men but we’ll see what we can do. I think Tyler (Farrar) is good, I’ve won here three times. Of course Kittel is here for it, so he’s the man to watch.”

 

Cavendish's teammate Tyler Farrar had this to say about the race, including the slightly new finish.

 

"I’m interested to see the new finish, I’ve only seen it on paper. I think it looks good. There’s a good chance it will make the sprint safer, the corners will stretch things a little bit more. It was such a long straight and with about 600 metres to go the leadouts would tend to stall up and you’d get a big swarm from behind. So hopefully adding the two turns will string it out enough that that doesn’t happen. I’ve crashed once in one of the big pile-ups here, it’s often a messy sprint here, so hopefully this cleans it up today.”

 

The move from the big teams at the front of the peloton has started to have an effect, and they've shaved of a chunk of time. The gap to the six leaders is down to 3'25.

 

Kittel:

“If you look at the start list it’s hard to beat the names on that list. It’s not a very difficult race, it’s all about the final, the last lap, to be in position with your team. That makes it highly competitive; everyone’s fresh and can show how fast they are. The confidence is there, and high. Especially with my teammates, we’re doing a good job even though we’re new together.”

 

You can find our complete startlist quotes story, right here.

 

The gap is still holding, around the 3'25 mark. 117km to go in today's race.

 

A reminder of our six leaders:  Westra (Astana), Helven (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), De Vries (Roompot) Tronet (Fortuneo), Denz (AG2R) and Kiendys (CCC).

 

110 km left in #SPS, and 3:16 for the break of six. Etixx - Quick-Step leads the peloton.

@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 6th Apr 2016 12:33:05

Don't forget that you can download and listen to our latest podcast. It features Peter Sagan, Lizzie Armitstead, Alexander Kristoff and Greg Van Avermaet. You can download it for free, right here.

 

Etixx Quickstep have stepped up and moved nearly all of their team to the front of the peloton. There's always huge pressure on them to perform in these races and win today could kick-start their Classics campaign ahead of Paris-Roubaix. 

 

 Rain. We knew it was coming, it's been grey all day and finally the heavens have opened. A few riders are going back for jackets. 

In case you missed it, here's our start list for today's race. 

 

While we're also providing you with live coverage from stage 3 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. You can follow the action, here.

 

95km remaining from 207km

Into the final 100km of the race, and the rain continues to come down. The break have 3'00 on the peloton. 

Interestingly Tinkoff have come to the front and started to help Etixx set the pace. They're working for Baska today.

 

The effort from Tinkoff continues with the Russian team keeping up the pressure on the front of the peloton. We're entering the heart of the race with more cobbles and climbs. It's unlikely they'll split the field entirely but if they can weaken some of the other sprinters' teams that's what they'll do.

 

The leaders head through the feedzone with 87km to go. Sagan still has men on the front of the peloton but they've pulled the pace back ever so slightly, allowing the break to hold their gap at 2'25.

 

Although Sagan has men near the front, the world champion is surfing wheels at the back of the peloton with Cancellara - both riders have their focus firmly on Paris-Roubaix.

 

Danny Pate out of Redlands Classic due to illness. Soloday replaces him. https://t.co/VZzbpOL655 https://t.co/Lp5zQR4eMI

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 6th Apr 2016 13:13:43

Kelderman hits form in Pais Vasco https://t.co/h9ziRwdyx8 https://t.co/KAd5sFDRKM

@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 6th Apr 2016 13:13:14

Don't forget you can download the latest Cyclingnews podcast from Itunes.

 

The rain seems to have stopped, relief for the riders in the peloton as they hurtle towards the finish . Up ahead the six leaders continue to share the pace setting duties. 90km to go.

 

The gap is coming down though, the gap at 1'42. 

 

It's still Tinkoff on the front but they've also been joined by Team Sky.

 

#SPS Westra, Helven, Denz, kiendys, Tronet & de Vries have 1'42" with 90km to go.

@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 6th Apr 2016 13:28:50

84km remaining from 207km

Team Sky lead through a couple of tricky corners as they stretch out the peloton. At the back of the bunch Eisel calls for the team car.

 

Lotto Soudal and Katusha have also moved up and started to set the pace and position their leaders for the race. 

 

We're into the final 70km in Pais Vasco. You can follow the action, right here.

 

The peloton have, as they have done for most of the day, the break under control. With 77km to go the gap is at 2'00 as Boonen, twice a winner here, drops back and calls for his Etixx team car.

 

A few more drops of rain fall on the break and the peloton but it's nothing too bad at the moment as Astana and Cannondale also pitch up at front with riders to do the work.

 

Cancellara is coming back through the cars, and makes contact with the peloton with 70km to go.

Barry Markus (Roompot - Oranje Peloton) was third in the 2013 Scheldeprijs when riding for the Vacansoleil-DCM team. Ever since his promising first years as a pro the now 24-year-old sprinter failed to live up to the high expectations. His start to the 2016 was unlucky: "I'm trying to get back at a good level after breaking my collarbone in the Tour of Qatar. It's not been easy so far [completing only one race]. This is somewhat of an easy race so I hope that I'll be able to ride a good sprint. It's great to be here in a race where you know you cracked the podium already," Markus told Cyclingnews at the start in Antwerp this morning.

Over in France Coquard has won stage 2 in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe.

 

We've also this huge gallery of bikes and kit from the start this morning. There are disk brakes and deep section wheels.

Matteo Trentin failed to impress as part of the Etixx-Quickstep team last Sunday at the Tour of Flanders: "I wasn't having a great day in the Ronde. Maybe I didn't recover enough from Gent-Wevelgem. Echelons? Hopefully today there's nobody who gets crazy ideas and it'll be an easy day. Then again, mostly it's our team who gets these crazy ideas."

67km remaining from 207km

Back in the race and the gap has dropped to just 1'11 with 67km to go.

As we head towards the final 50km of racing more and more riders are dropping back to their team cars, dropping off clothing and picking up a few more bottles. The last hour is going to be frantic. 

 

Tinkoff are still doing the majority of the work on the front of the peloton and it's paying off, with the gap under a minute to the six leaders. 

 

The peloton round a number of tight corners and it's Etixx who now lead. This is the first time we've really seen them at the front of the race so far today. Katusha pull alongside them with Kristoff and Kittel almost side-by-side.

 

It's only a short stay at the front for Etixx, with a number of Katusha riders taking over. 57km to go and the gap to the break is 25 seconds.

 

Meanwhile, Team Sky have announced their Paris-Roubaix team. Check out their line-up.

 

54km remaining from 207km

54km to go and the break have been caught. That's interesting because there's still a long way to go. Expect counter attacks. 

 

It's almost like the beginning of the race, with the pace lifting dramatically for a few seconds before slowing. The bunch line out but there's not a single team taking control. 

 

Dimension Data have brought their sprinter, Mark Cavendish to the front with just over 50km to go. 

 

Belgian national champion Preben Van Hecke has attacked had he's away with one more rider. They have 15 seconds as a rider from South East tries to bridge up to them. 

 

It's Sanz for South East but he's in a group of one on the road. Brian Van Goethem (Roompot) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty) lead from Preben Van Hecke (Topsport) and Turgot, and then Sanz.

 

The leading duo have 14 seconds on the chasers, the peloton around another 10 seconds further back. Two more riders have joined Sanz.

 

44km remaining from 207km

If they were one group, rather than three, they might have stood a chance but they're going to burn all their matches riding in pairs. The peloton, still to set up their real chase, can just keep the attacks under control for now. They're at 41 seconds.

 

It's Maxime Cam and Nikolay Mihaylov who are with Sanz as up the road Turgot, once on the podium in Roubaix, takes off his top layer. Etixx though have brought him back as they start to up the pace. Eisel, Farrar and Cavendish are near the front of the peloton.

 

39km remaining from 207km

Just two riders up the road and they have just 18 seconds on the Etixx led peloton.

 

The rain is coming down again and the pace increases in the bunch. They have the leading duo at 15 seconds as Dimension Data position more of their men on the front.

 

Cannondale are also in the mix, probably as they try and set up Wouter Wippert.

 

(CyclingNews) Scheldeprijs tech showcases disc brakes and deep wheels - Gallery https://t.co/5lvJDxOAzv #ProCycling

@ProCyclingNow Wed, 6th Apr 2016 14:50:19

Ian Stannard pull up with 32km to go. It look like his day is done.

 

Dimension Data continue to set the pace on the front of the peloton. Sagan is right at the front today too, riding as a teammate rather than a leader as he tows his teammates closer to the head of affairs. 

 

It's only a matter of time before Etixx organise themselves and hit the front. The likes of Boonen are there, sitting a few wheels back at Dimension Data, Cannondale and Katusha set the pace. 

 

And here they come, three Etixx QuickStep riders move to the front just as the race comes back together. They've moved Cavendish's men off the front, with Sagan just sitting to one side. 

 

The pace isn't that hight, we could see more attacks if they continue to ride like this and it's Sagan who takes over at the front with 24km to go.

 

News from Italy... They think Sagan can win Paris-Roubaix. Story with quotes from Tafi and co. here.

 

They're not hanging around now, as Dimension hit the front with Lotto Jumbo also in attendance. 21km to go and Peter Sagan sits up, his work done for the day. He smiles for the cameras as he drifts back through the team cars. 

 

20km remaining from 207km

Cofidis move up as well with Etixx and DD waiting in the wings. It's worth pointing out that both Cavendish and Kittel have won this race three times each. A fourth for either rider would set a new record. 

The peloton cross the line, one circuit remaining for the bunch.

 

And now Lotto Soudal, who have been quiet all day, hit the front with 14km remaining. There are so many strong sprinters in the bunch, as we see Cavendish take a swig from his bottle. He has Guardini on his wheel. 

 

Cancellara is also present as he drags Bonifazio and Theuns closer to the front.

 

We've maybe six or seven leadout trains on the front of the peloton. Sagan made the right call in sitting up 10kms ago.

 

It's still Cancellara on the front but he's about to pull off and leave his Trek Segafredo teammates to it. Fenn now takes over on the front for Viviani. Guardini is there, he could be a man to watch today. 

 

And with 9.5km to go Farrar grits his teeth and takes over. Cavendish doesn't have too many men left with him though. Etixx make a nice neat line on the other side of the road but Farrar isn't giving them any room. Brave riding from the American. 

 

7km remaining from 207km

7km to go and the peloton remain strung out with Cavendish's team still holding court on the front of the bunch. This head to head against Kittel could be close but don't rule out Viviani, Kristoff and Greipel. There are so many strong sprinters here.

 

Most of the peloton have sat up, including Boonen and Cancellara. They don't want to get involved in the sprint.

Into the final 5km and every sprinter worth his salt has a man on the front now. SouthEast have moved up, Bora, Etixx, Katusha. 

 

There's a surge from Cofidis now too. 3km to go.

Not one single team can take control at this point. 

 

Etixx are trying to get Kittel towards they've done it. Cavendish on his wheel. 2km to go.

 

Farrar is fighting to keep Cavendish in the frame. 1.6km to go.

 

Two Etixx riders on the front, make that three.

 

Right hand corner and Kittel has Cavendish on his wheel. Greipel there too.

 

Etixx lead this one out 800m to go.

 

Kittel, Cavendish and Greipel go head to head.

 

Greipel wont get there, as Cavendish tries to come around Kittel. This is going to be close.

 

Kittel takes it from Cavendish by less than half a wheel.

 

Cavendish did everything right there in term of timing his sprint for the line, he just came up against a stronger sprinter on the day. Kittel takes the win, his fourth here. Etixx win!

 

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
7 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
8 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
9 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept

“The team did a super job to get me in the right position. It was a good fight with Mark,” Kittel said at the finish.

“I said before the race that I'm not here to make history, I'm racing for joy, for pleasure, just riding my bike. It's even better if I could get the record here for the wins in the Scheldeprijs. I like this race. Sometimes it's not easy, like today. You normally always have the best sprinters here, and it's great to win.”

 

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
4 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
7 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
8 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
9 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept

 

If you missed it, here's our report from Pais Vasco.

 

You can find our report, images, and results for today's Scheldeprijs, right here

 

We will be back tomorrow with more live coverage from Pais Vasco.

 

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