It was the 23-year-old Belgian’s first win for Alpecin-Fenix, having joined from UAE Team Emirates over the winter, and his team pulled off something of a heist to deny QuickStep a fifth win in six years.
The Belgian WorldTour team placed five of their seven riders in the front group of 30 as the peloton split in the early winds in Zeeland, and then controlled the pace in that group on the three laps of the finishing circuit around Schoten. They even had a four-man lead-out train going into the final kilometre.
But they came undone when Alpecin-Fenix suddenly came storming up in the final 500 metres. The second-division squad had lost their other sprinter, Tim Merlier, to a crash and had largely been passengers in the front group, but Dries De Bondt and Jonas Rickaert propelled Philipsen to the front in remarkable fashion.
Michael Mørkøv perhaps found himself on the front too early, and Rickaert breezed past him and then in front of him as Philipsen opened his sprint. A panicked Bennett found himself with little room for manouevre and stuttered as he looked to get into Philipsen’s slipstream and out into open road, but by then it was too late.
Despite Bennett appearing to be the chosen sprinter for Deceuninck-QuickStep, Cavendish opted to sweep on the Irishman’s wheel rather than help lead him out, and he trailed him all the way to the podium. It was the three-time Scheldeprijs winner’s best result in a number of years, but having two sprinters on the lower steps of the podium is never the best look.
Nor was it a great look for Bora-Hansgrohe, who also had five riders in the front group, including their lead sprinter Pascal Ackermann, who could only manage sixth, behind Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic)
Not that Philipsen was complaining, with European champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) also among the list of top class sprinters he put to the sword.
“There were a lot of good sprinters here at the start, so to win this race is really nice,” he said. “There was a high level of sprinters at the finish line who I beat now, so that gives me confidence for the next races.”
How it unfolded
Despite overnight snow and hail, the conditions caused no disruption to the planned running of the 108th edition of the one-day race. It was bitterly cold at the start across the Dutch border in Terneuzen, but the precipitation had been and gone. The wind, however, was still strong making for a hectic start as it crossed onto the middle peninsular of the Zeeland province, a flat and exposed area of delta land.
The brisk north-westerly made it a tailwind in the opening phase of the race and the first hour was ticked off at an eye-watering 51 kph. It took just 17 kilometres for the race to split, after a string of early crashes took several riders, including Kristoffer Halvorsen (Uno-X Pro Cycling) out of the race. The bunch split in three at first, but the groups steadily came back together after 40 or so kilometres of racing.
It was another crash that seemed to spark the decisive split with 55km on the clock. Suddenly an elite group of 13 was clear: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Pascal Ackermann, Nils Politt, Michael Schwarzmann, Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Sam Bennett, Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Norman Vahtra (Israel Start-Up Nation), Giacomo Nizzolo, Max Walscheid (Qhubeka Assos), Jasper Philipsen, Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic).
The gaps were small but remained stable for several kilometres as the race continued at full tilt. The second group contained 15 riders and fought to keep themselves in contention. In there were: Stan Dewulf, Marc Sarreau, (AG2R-Citroën), Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish, Florian Sénéchal, Bert Van Lerberghe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Cees Bol (Team DSM), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Evaldas Siskevicius (Delko), Dries Van Gestel (Total Direct Energie), Jan-Willem Van Schip, Luuc Bugter, Piotr Havik (BEAT Cycling).
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) were in there at the beginning, but crashed and had to slot into the third group on the road. Elia Viviani (Cofidis), meanwhile, missed out completely.
With 100km to go, the lead group had 40 seconds on the second group, and another minute on the larger third group. With Deceuninck-QuickStep in particular possessing reinforcements in group two, the front group eased a little and the two groups merged to create a 32-rider lead group with 75km to go.
By that point, they were onto the mainland and the wind was less of a factor, allowing the race to slot into a less chaotic pattern. They entered the finishing circuit and crossed the finish line for the first time with 50km to go, at which point the gap stood at 2:20.
On the first of three full laps of the 16.7km finishing circuit – containing the Broekstraat cobblestone sector – Sénéchal and Burghardt did the bulk of the work up front, while the Alpecin-Fenix trio were content to sit at the back. In the chase group, meanwhile, Kristoff’s UAE finally began to mount a proper chase, Viviani’s Cofidis having taken the lion’s share of responsibility before that.
By the end of the first lap, the gap was down to 2:05, and it continued to fall on the second lap as Israel Start-Up Nation – working for Hugo Hofstetter and Rudy Barbier – and Bingoal Wallonnie Bruxelles – for Timothy Dupoint – joined the chase. However, Sénéchal and Burghardt kept them at a comfortable distance. Despite a brief acceleration from Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) in the chase, the lead group crossed the line for the penultimate time with a lead of 1:35.
The situation remained stable on the final lap. UAE continued to chase a lost cause behind, with Vegard Stake Laengen accelerating fiercely on Broekstraat, but by that point the gap was still 1:20 with 7km to go. Up front Sénéchal and Burghardt traded turns all the way to the final 3.5km. At that point, the route turned right away from the Schelde river and up towards the finish. Sénéchal dropped away as the rest of QuickStep got organized behind, but Burghardt stayed on the front until 2.5km to go.
As he started to ease and look around, a Beat rider launched an attack. It was closed down by Van Lerberghe, but followed by another attack from Van Moer with 2km to go. Van Lerberghe shut it down again and took control of the pace, while Mørkøv sat in front of Bennett and Cavendish guarded his rear wheel.
AG2R took up the lead out but QuickStep soon moved to the front, with Van Lerberghe peeling off to leave Mørkøv to take it up from range. Alpecin-Fenix produced a stunning surge to come up and move past with more speed, throwing the QuickStep train off the rails and putting Philipsen into a position where he almost couldn’t lose.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||4:03:30|
|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|
|11||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko|
|12||Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|13||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|14||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|15||Jan Willem van Schip (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|16||Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation|
|17||Luuc Bugter (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|18||Piotr Havik (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|19||Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|20||Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM|
|21||Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|22||Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|23||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:07|
|24||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|25||Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:16|
|26||Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team||0:00:17|
|27||Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:20|
|28||Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|29||Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|30||Dusan Rajovic (Srb) Delko||0:01:21|
|31||Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis|
|32||Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie|
|33||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|34||Yoeri Havik (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|35||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|36||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|37||John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|38||Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|39||Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|40||Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|41||Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Rally Cycling|
|42||Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|43||Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB|
|44||Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|45||Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|46||Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|47||Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|48||Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko|
|49||Martin Bugge Urianstad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|50||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|51||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|52||Pierre Barbier (Fra) Delko|
|53||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|54||Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|55||Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|56||Martijn Budding (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|57||Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|58||Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM|
|59||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates|
|60||Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|61||Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|62||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|63||Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|64||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|65||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|66||Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|67||Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|68||Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|69||Shane Archbold (NZl) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:01:30|
|70||Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|71||August Jensen (Nor) Delko|
|72||Lars Saugstad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|73||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie||0:01:32|
|74||Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:01:33|
|75||Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis||0:01:50|
|76||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:01:55|
|77||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis||0:02:23|
|DNF||Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Jonathan Brown (USA) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Jeroen Eyskens (Bel) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Sean Nolan (Irl) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Vitor Zucco Schizzi (Bra) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Marten Kooistra (Ned) Beat Cycling|
|DNF||Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Ben Walsh (Irl) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Oskar Nisu (Est) Evopro Racing|
|DNF||Martin Salmon (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Casper van Uden (Ned) Development Team DSM|
|DNF||Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Frederik Rodenberg Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Niklas Larsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Stefano Museeuw (Bel) Beat Cycling|
|DNF||Julius Johansen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Sean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Donavan Grondin (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Gleb Brussenskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis|
|DNF||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis|
|DNF||Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Jonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Alex Richardson (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Sasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Boris Vallee (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Clément Carisey (Fra) Delko|
|DNF||Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||José Gonçalves (Por) Delko|
|DNF||Nickolas Zukowsky (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Magnus Sheffield (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Pier Andre Cote (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
As Features Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.
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