Skip to main content

Live coverage

Scheldeprijs - Live coverage

Refresh

The peloton is gathering in Terneuzen for what promises to be a memorable edition of Scheldeprijs. Rain, snow, hail and - above all - wind have been forecast, and there is a strong chance that the bunch could be shattered into echelons in the exposed opening section before the race crosses from the Netherlands into Belgium. Scheldeprijs is traditionally the sprinters' classic, but the fast men will have to work harder than ever to earn the right to contest victory in Schoten this afternoon. 

Snow was general all over Belgium yesterday, and there were even concerns about the viability of holding the race. Those worries centred largely on the availability of the Dutch police to accompany the peloton in the opening kilometres after the start in Terneuzen, and race director Scott Sunderland earlier confirmed the event would go ahead. "We had to wait and see, but we just received confirmation that our 109th Scheldeprijs has been given the green light. We are allowed to start as planned and the race will follow the planned route," Sunderland told the Belga news agency.

“We've kept a close eye on the weather forecast. It will be windy and cold, but no more snow showers or hail storms are expected, as was the case yesterday. Out of respect for the riders and riders, we have decided not to do a team presentation. Everyone can stay in the team bus until just before the start. The race can break up very quickly due to the wind. I'm expecting an exciting race."

While Scheldeprijs goes ahead, Groupama-FDJ will not be on the start line. The French squad announced this morning that they have pulled out of the race after a team member tested positive for COVID-19. French champion Arnaud Démare was among the contenders for victory this afternoon. Stephen Farrand has more here.

Arnaud Demare and his Groupama-FDJ teammates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nacer Bouhanni is also a non-starter today, his Arkea-Samsic squad has announced. Bouhanni has been subjected to odious racial abuse in the days since Cholet Pays de Loire, and in an interview with L'Equipe on Tuesday, he outlined some of the prejudice he has faced over the past twenty-five years. "Following recent events, Nacer Bouhanni isn't at the full capacity needed to take the start of Scheldeprijs," his team said on Twitter.

BELLEGARDE FRANCE FEBRUARY 03 Nacer Bouhanni of France and Team Arkea Samsic during the 51st toile de Bessges Tour du Gard 2021 Stage 1 a 14355km stage from Bellegarde to Bellegarde 57m EDB2020 on February 03 2021 in Bellegarde France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Bouhanni had already been extremely reluctant to take the start of La Roue Tourangelle on Sunday after a week of constant racist abuse on social media following his clash with Jake Stewart at Cholet Pays de Loire. Arkea-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert persuaded him to ride, and Bouhanni took second in the sprint behind Arnaud Demare, but he has decided not to participate today. A full two days after Bouhanni had highlighted the issue, the UCI finally deigned to condemn the racist abuse in a statement this morning. 

"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) wishes to firmly condemn the racist attacks aimed at the French rider Nacer Bouhanni on social media following his disqualification for dangerous conduct during the final sprint at the Cholet-Pays de la Loire," read a statement.

"However serious the fault of the French rider – which forced the UCI to refer the incident to its Disciplinary Commission and demand the imposition of sanctions against him – , nothing justifies the insults he has been subject to in the days following the act he is accused of."

Scheldeprijs gets underway at 12.45 local time. Having been spared a team presentation due to the miserable conditions, the riders are now beginning to emerge from their team buses and head for the start line.

Despite the absence of Bouhanni, Démare and 2020 winner Caleb Ewan, there is, as ever, a long list of sprint talent in the field at Scheldeprijs. Sam Bennett lines up as the favourite in a Deceuninck-QuickStep squad that also includes three-time winner Mark Cavendish. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Elia Viviani (Cofidis), Cees Bol (DSM), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-KTM) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) are all among the contenders – but the wind conditions this year mean that a bunch sprint is not even remotely guaranteed.

The peloton is in the short neutralised zone in Terneuzen before the official start. After passing through the Westerscheldetunnel, the bunch is immediately into flat, wind-exposed roads in Zeeland, and there could be a very, very early selection here.

-194km

The 2021 edition of Scheldeprijs is officially underway. With last year's winner Caleb Ewan an absentee, his Lotto Soudal teammate John Degenkolb wears the number 1 dossard. This is, remarkably, Degenkolb's first-ever appearance in the race. 

See more

-189km

The peloton is currently in the Westerscheldetunnel, cocooned from the elements, but they will emerge to winds of over 30kph and a temperature of around 6°C. "I don't believe it will be a bunch sprint," Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters told Sporza. "It will certainly break to pieces in the first 75km. Then it remains to be seen how many groups will come back."

With victory at the Tour of Flanders, E3 Harelbeke, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Brugge-De Panne, Deceuninck-QuickStep's spring is already a resounding success, but they can finish their cobbled Classics campaign on a high here. Bennett and Cavendish give them two sprint options, while the squad also includes Michael Mørkøv, Shane Archbold, Florian Sénéchal, Bert Van Lerberghe and Iljo Keisse.

-185km

A crash in the peloton sees Michael Van Staeyen among the fallers. The Schoten native has twice made the top 10 in his home race, and he lines out today with Irish Continental outfit EvoPro Racing, managed by the former professional Morgan Fox.

There is a tailwind in these opening kilometres, which means that the pace is very high but there is, as yet, no scope for creating echelons. There are plenty of changes in direction ahead, mind, so it would be a surprise if this peloton makes it to the finishing circuit around Schoten intact.

A dark grey sky that could have been lifted straight from a Jacques Brel song hangs low over the Scheldeprijs peloton, but the anticipated rain and hail has yet to materialise. 

-179km

It's been a very brisk start but as yet no break or echelon has taken shape.

-177km

And at that, the peloton breaks in two as the wind makes its presence felt...

Lotto Soudal and Deceuninck-QuickStep are present in numbers at the head of the race and they are piling on the pressure in a bid to open a gap for the front group.

The peloton has broken up into three echelons, each separated by 10 seconds or so. The initial split may have been caused by a crash, but the gaps could be padded out by the wind conditions.

Four riders have abandoned following the crash that contributed to the split: Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Ward Vanhoof (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Florian Maitre (Total Direct Energie) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (Uno-X Pro Cycling).

-171km

The front group is a sizeable one, with more than 60 riders still there. For the time being, the wind conditions don't seem conducive to a further winnowing process at the front, but the race is still young and there is a lot of exposed road to go on this run through Zeeland to the Belgian border. 

There are 50km remaining in the inaugural women's Scheldeprijs. The peloton broke up early on in the wind but there has been a regrouping of sorts since. 

Local favourite Michael Van Staeyen won't reach Schoten. The EvoPro Racing rider has been forced to abandon after his earlier crash.

Bora-Hansgrohe are also contributing to the pace-making in the front group, which is around 20 seconds clear of the second group on the road.

-167km

The men's peloton is beginning to reform once again. The first and second groups on the road has merged, while the erstwhile third group also looks as though it will regain contact. 

Meanwhile, three more riders have abandoned: Matteo Pelucchi (Qhubeka Assos) and the DSM duo of Niklas Markl and Martin Salmon.

In the women's race, Daniek Hengeveld (GT Krush Tunap) has escaped alone and she has a lead of half a minute over the peloton with 44km to go. 

Two-time Scheldeprijs winner Fabio Jakobsen is set to make his return to racing at the Tour of Turkey, which gets underway on Sunday. The Dutchman suffered serious injuries in his horrific crash at last year's Tour de Pologne, but Deceuninck-QuickStep doctor Yvan Vanmol revealed the news on the Vals Plat podcast earlier this week. Jakobsen is due to hold a press conference tomorrow to confirm the news. Read more here.

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

(Image credit: Deceuninck – Quick-Step Cycling Team)

-152km

Out on the road, the pace remains high and the gap between the two groups remains stubborn. The front peloton of 70 or so riders still has 20 seconds in hand on the chasers.

-150km

After those early frissons, the peloton has reformed - but there are still another 30km or so along these exposed roads in Zeeland, and there is still ample opportunity for the race to break up all over again.

There are 34km remaining in the women's race, where lone escapee Daniek Hengeveld carries a lead of just under a minute into the final two laps of the finishing circuit.

-143km

Aided by the early tailwind, the men's peloton covered a blistering 50.7km in the opening hour of racing.

The peloton stretches out into a long line once again. None of the cracks in the line have widened into gaps just yet, but the tension, like the pace, is high.

-140km

Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) is a faller in the peloton, and that crash could trigger another split.

-136km

A gap of around 25 seconds has opened between the two portions of the peloton after that crash. Van der Hoorn, meanwhile, has abandoned the race.

See more

-130km

The second group battles grimly to get back on terms after this latest split. The gap stands at around 15 seconds for the time being.

In the women's race, Daniek Hengeveld carries a lead of 23 seconds into the final 16km, with the sprinters' teams closing in behind.

An elite group of 13 riders is in front, with a lead of 15 seconds or so over the first chasers. The leaders are: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic).

-122km

Break:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic)

Chasers 1 at 0:14

Chasers 2 at 0:30

Into the final 6km in the women's race, where the stage looks set for a bunch finish as Hengeveld is about to be caught by the peloton.

-119km

The men's Scheldeprijs has splintered into quite defined echelons. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) are in the second group on the road, which is now 28 seconds down on Bennett, Ackermann et al. The third group is at 53 seconds, the fourth is at 1:07 and the fifth is at 1:28.

-115km

Break:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic).

Chasers at 0:28:

Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Cees Bol (DSM), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Luuc Bugter (Beat Cycling) and Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling).

Peloton at 0:53

The second group already appeared to be losing ground on the baker's dozen out in front, and now Tim Merlier and Alexander Kristoff have crashed in this second group. They are quickly back on their bikes, but their chances of seeing the front of the race again are severely diminished. 

Lorena Wiebes (DSM) has won the inaugural women's edition of Scheldeprijs, beating Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) and Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) in a bunch finish in Schoten.

-109km

Break:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic).

Chasers at 0:40:

Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Cees Bol (DSM), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Luuc Bugter (Beat Cycling) and Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling).

Peloton at 1:45

-103km

Deceuninck-QuickStep's two men in the front group, Sam Bennet and Michael Morkov, have been content to sit on in the hope the chasers - with Senechal, Cavendish and Van Lerberghe - can rejoin them. The gap has reduced in recent kilometres and it now stands at 25 seconds.

It appears that neither Merlier nor Kristoff succeeded in making it back to the sqecond group after their earlier crash, and they are thus likely now in the third group on the road, 1:45 down on the leaders.

-78km

Break:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic).

Chasers at 0:25:

Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Premier Tech), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (DSM), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Stefano Musseeuw (Beat Cycling), Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling)

Peloton at 1:48

The beginning of live television pictures helps to clarify some of the earlier information that emerged from the race. It's worth noting that Nils Politt is among the 13-man leading group, meaning that Bora-Hansgrohe have four men in this move, which is still 22 seconds clear of the chasers and now 1:56 ahead of the bunch.

-72km

Bora-Hansgrohe were driving this front group, but they now appeared prepared to wait for reinforcements from behind. The Cavendish group has closed to 10 seconds and is about to make contact.

The front two groups merge, meaning that Bora-Hanstgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep each have five riders at the head of the race. This group is some 1:56 clear of the peloton. 

-70km

The 30 riders at the head of the race are: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Premier Tech), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (DSM), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Stefano Musseeuw (Beat Cycling), Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling)

After the exposed roads in Zeeland, there is rather more foliage to offer shelter on this part of the course. The rain has thus far held off, but the wind has helped to break up this race and eliminate many sprinters from contention long before the finish. Cofidis lead the peloton, now some 2:15 down on the 30 leaders. It looks to be all over for Viviani, Kristoff, Merlier and Degenkolb.

-66km

The 30-man front group is 16km from its first passage across the finishing line, after which they will face three more laps of the 16.7km finishing circuit.

Both race radio and the on-screen graphics missed another rider in this front group, and a fast finisher to boot: Marc Sarreau is up here with his AG2R-Citroen teammate Stan Dewulf. 

Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep seem happy to find common cause and tee up a sprint duel between Pascal Ackermann and Sam Bennett in Schoten. Deceuninck-QuickStep set the pace over the cobbles at Sint Jobsesteenweg, with a lead of 2:06 over the Cofidis-paced peloton.

-60km

Break:

Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Marc Sarreau (AG2R-Citroën), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Premier Tech), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (DSM), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Luuc Bugter (Beat Cycling), Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling)

Peloton at 2:11

Beyond Bennett and Ackermann, there are plenty of established sprinters in this group. Nizzolo, Philipsen, Bol, Sarreau, Van Poppel and, of course, Bennett's teammate Cavendish all carry a turn of pace. 

Florian Senechal leads the front group over the cobbles at Broekstraat for the first time. They will traverse this 750m sector three more times, and this might serve to shake loose some of the fast men closer to the finish. 

Eduard-Michel Grosu (Delko) attacks from the peloton after the cobbled sector, but the Romanian certainly isn't going to make up a two-minute gap on the 30 leaders by himself.

-54km

The leaders pass along the Albert Canal, which connects the Meuse and Schelde rivers. They are 4km away from their first passage over the finish line, and their lead over the peloton is growing. 2:21 the gap.

-50km

The leaders cross the finish line on Churchilllaan in Schoten with a buffer of 2:20 over the peloton. Three laps of the finishing circuit remain, and it's difficult to envisage anything other than a sprint from this reduced front group.

-46km

The leaders approach the cobbles at Broekstraat for the second time. Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe continue to share the pace-making duties at the head of the group.

As the rear of the race reaches the finish line on Churchillaan for the first time, several riders avail of the opportunity to climb aboard their team buses. 

UAE Team Emirates finally begin to ride at the head of the peloton, 2:16 down on the leaders, but it's surely too late to bring Kristoff back into contention. The Norwegian had made the second group (now merged with the first) when the race split up, but suffered the misfortune of crashing out of it in the company of Tim Merlier. 

-42km

The leaders rattle across the cobbles at Broekstraat. The risk of crashes on this sector often causes frissons in a large peloton, but the tension is less obvious for a reduced group such as this. 

-40km

A reminder of the men still in contention to win Scheldeprijs: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Marc Sarreau (AG2R-Citroën), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Premier Tech), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (DSM), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Luuc Bugter (Beat Cycling), Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling)

Mark Cavendish is a three-time winner of this race and he has come close to victory on a couple of occasions this season, but Sam Bennett will surely be Deceuninckl-QuickStep's anointed one in the likely event of a sprint finish. It will be interesting to see what role Cavendish plays in teeing up the sprint, given that Michael Mørkøv will surely be Bennett's last man. 

NOKERE BELGIUM MARCH 17 Mark Cavendish of United Kingdomand Team Deceuninck QuickStep Dominique Landuyt of Belgium Mechanic of Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 75th Nokere Koerse Danilith Classic 2021 Mens Elite a 1955km race from Deinze to Nokere Mechanic Car NokereKoerse on March 17 2021 in Nokere Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-38km

Florian Senechal has been doing the lion's share of the pace-making at the head of this leading group. It's interesting to note that the Alpecin-Fenix trio of Dries De Bondt, Jasper Philipsen and Jonas Rickaert are parked together at the rear of this group for the time being.

-35km

UAE Team Emirates' pursuit has done little more than stabilise the gap between the leading group and the peloton, which now stands at 2:09.

-34km

Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) leads the race up Churchilllaan for the second time. The leaders have another two laps to go. We might - might - see some attacks on the final lap, but with five riders apiece from Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep in this group, including Ackermann and Bennett, a group sprint looks the most likely eventuality here.

UAE Team Emirates lead a reduced peloton of beaten men through the finish line, still 2:05 down on the break. Two laps of their fruitless chase remain.

-29km

Burghardt and Senechal continue to swap turns at the head of the race. Cofidis, UAE Team Emirates and Bingoal's efforts have closed the peloton's deficit to 1:42, but it's too late to reel in this 30-strong move.

-25km

It's still Senechal and Burghardt leading the 30-man break over the cobbles at Broekstraat, which they are traversing for the penultimate time. The lead over the peloton remains at 1:40.

-21km

The leading group maintains its lead of 1:39 over the chasers. Alpecin-Fenix remain at the rear of this group, but Philipsen will surely start to move up after they take the bell in four kilometres' time.

-20km

Dries De Bondt struggles with the removal of his jacket in the breeze along the Albert Canal. He gets a little bit of help from Cees Bol and eventually hands it off to the Alpecin-Fenix team car. 

-19km

Senechal and Burghardt are still doing all the work at the front as they approach the end of the penultimate lap of this finishing circuit.

-17km

One lap to go in Scheldeprijs, where a 30-man group featuring Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Giacomo Nizzolo, Mark Cavendish, Cees Bol and Jasper Philipsen has a led of 1:40 over the peloton.

A reminder of the men in this front group, where Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe have five riders apiece: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-Assos), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Marc Sarreau (AG2R-Citroën), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Gleb Brussenskiy (Astana Premier Tech), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Cees Bol (DSM), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels-KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip (Beat Cycling), Luuc Bugter (Beat Cycling), Piotr Havik (Beat Cycling) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling).

Other sprinters to watch in this group include Marc Sarreau and Danny van Poppel. It remains to be seen, however, who will try to deny the fast men here. Brent Van Moer, for instance, is Lotto Soudal's lone representative and not noted for his finishing speed.

-13km

Senechal has put in a remarkable shift on the front of this group, which remains intact and some 1:27 clear of the peloton.

Burghardt has matched Senechal's work rate, and the German comes through once again. They have one more crossing of the cobbles at Broekstraat still to come. A few drops of rain are beginning to fall, but a full-blown shower might hold off until after the race finishes. 

-11km

While Senechal and Burghardt lead the race, the rest of the Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe riders in this move are a little further back, grouped around their sprinters.

The precipitation has not held off after all... Sleet is beginning to fall heavily over the finishing circuit. There will be plenty of riders in that chasing peloton silently wishing they had climbed off when they came past the team buses with a lap to go.

-8km

A familiar situation on the Broekstraat, where Senechal sets the pace in the front group.

Burghardt takes over as they come off the cobbles for the final time. Still no attack from the break, though De Moer is now visible towards the head of this group.

-7km

The sleet has abated and the sun pokes briefly through the clouds. Still it's Burghardt and Senechal who set the pace at the head of the break, 1:15 clear of the peloton.

Cavendish is sitting on Sam Bennett's wheel for the time being, and they are both tucked in behind Van Lerberghe and Morkov. Bora-Hansgrohe, meanwhile, are queued up behind the Deceuninck-QuickStep delegation.

-5km

Danny van Poppel remains well positioned near the front of this leading group with his teammate Jonas Koch. They are just behind Burghardt and Senechal, who continue to lead.

Deceuninck-QuickStep's sprint delegation are now starting to make their way up through the group, with Bora-Hansgrohe following them. Senechal and Burghardt, meanwhile, continue to find common cause at the front. 

-4km

Philipsen and Alpecin-Fenix remain at the rear of this front group for the time being. Behind, Victor Campenaerts and John Degenkolb are attempting to split the peloton, but it's far too late, given that their deficit is still 1:10.

-3.5km

Senechal swings off and now Burghardt takes over for a final stint. When he finishes, it looks as though the rest of the Deceuninck-QuickStep squad will take up the reins.

-2.5km

Burghardt looks over his shoulder but nobody comes through and the German slows...

-2.3km

An attack from a Beat Cycling rider is quickly shut down by QuickStep's Van Lerberghe.

-2km

Brent Van Moer, as expected, launches an attack but the Lotto Soudal man can't open a gap. Van Lerberghe takes over again on the front for Deceuninck-QuickStep.

-1km

Van Lerberghe leads into the final kilometre with Morkov, Bennett and Cavendish  on his wheel...

Alpecin-Fenix move up as they enter the final 500 metres...

Dries De Bondt leads out the sprint for distance...

Jasper Philipsen kicks for the line. Sam Bennett jumps for his wheel...

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) wins Scheldeprijs.

Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was second, with Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) taking third.

Morkov had to come to the front a bit earlier and he knocked off the pace slightly, almost waiting for the Alpecin-Fenix train to come by. Bennett managed to jump across onto Philipsen's wheel, but he seemed to lose a bit of momentum as he did so, and he couldn't pick up the speed to come around Philipsen.

Mark Cavendish was trailing Bennett throughout and he came home in third place. Deceuninck-QuickStep must ask questions of themselves after placing second and third in a sprint, but Philipsen was full value for his win, and he was teed up perfectly by De Bondt and then Jonas Rickaert...

Result

1          Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 04:03:28

2          Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep

3          Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep

4          Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

5          Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic

6          Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe

7          Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM

8          Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos

9          Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team

10        Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie

SCHOTEN BELGIUM APRIL 07 Arrival Jasper Philipsen of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration during the 109th Scheldeprijs 2021 Mens Elite a 1942km race from Terneuzen to Schoten SP21 FlandersClassic on April 07 2021 in Schoten Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Jasper Philipsen on his Scheldeprijs victory: “I think there were a lot of good sprinters here at the start and to win this race is very nice. There were a lot of high-level sprinters at the finish line, and I beat them. so that gives me a lot of confidence for the next races. As expected, there was a big fight [in the echelons] but all the big names were up there, and it was clear that we were going to a bunch sprint in the end.”

SCHOTEN BELGIUM APRIL 07 Arrival Jasper Philipsen of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 109th Scheldeprijs 2021 Mens Elite a 1942km race from Terneuzen to Schoten SP21 FlandersClassic on April 07 2021 in Schoten Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Sam Bennett on his second place finish: "We were running out of numbers. Not the result we wanted but at least we had two riders on the podium. It was nice on the echelons, quite enjoyable but then on the circuit we went too easy and the first effort to get going again was hard. When you’re going to sprint again your muscles aren’t warmed up and I couldn’t kick hard."

Asked about Deceuninck-QuickStep's tactics, where Cavendish was on Bennett's wheel rather than part of the lead-out, Bennett said: "I was doing my own sprint and then Mark was on the wheel to see what result he could do. And if he could come around, he’d come around. I just focused on my own race."

"Sam was the sprinter and I was sweeper," says Cavendish. "We had to leave it a little bit late and then when we went, we probably ran out of guys a little bit early. Michael had to back off a little bit and the other guys came from the right. It was kind of cross-tailwind from the left. Just as I was going. Sam kind of went to go on the left where it kind of closes and Philipsen was coming from the right. I was watching it from behind and I just had to back off to let Sam get out of there. I think he’s got the strongest legs of any sprinter at the minute. I backed off to try to let him out, but it didn’t quite work out."

SCHOTEN BELGIUM APRIL 07 Podium Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Jasper Philipsen of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix Mark Cavendish of United Kingdom and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the 109th Scheldeprijs 2021 Mens Elite a 1942km race from Terneuzen to Schoten Mask Covid Safety Measures Trophy SP21 FlandersClassic on April 07 2021 in Schoten Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

SCHOTEN BELGIUM APRIL 07 Arrival Jonas Rickaert of Belgium Dries De Bondt of Belgium Lionel Taminiaux of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration during the 109th Scheldeprijs 2021 Mens Elite a 1942km race from Terneuzen to Schoten SP21 FlandersClassic on April 07 2021 in Schoten Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Scheldeprijs 2021 Mark Cavendish

(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwe)

A full report, results and pictures from the elite men's Scheldeprijs are available here. The elite women's report, results and pictures are here.

Latest on Cyclingnews