Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scheldeprijs: All Hell's Sprint

Slippery ending...
l to r: Kittel (1st), Farrar (2nd), Bos (3rd)
Photo: Bettini 



The prestigious Flanders Classic Scheldeprijs is nestled nicely between the two towering monuments, De Ronde and Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.

You might think it would suffer from an inferiority complex. Well, it doesn't. Not by a mile. It has it's own lineage in the classics, today celebrating a very wet 100th edition.

As if on cue, the Flemish classic gods decided to rain on the centenarian cobble parade ...resulting in many crashes. The last happening across the finish line.

Rouleur photographer, Taz Darling was seriously injured when riders lost control on rain-soaked sponsors' logos at the finish.

I learned that Scheldeprijs is often referred to as the unofficial world championships for sprinters. A true sprinters test with the last scary, slippery kms left... the lead out teams did their work rocketing their leaders to full hurtle. The one team I thought had it all right was Garmin-Barracuda setting up Tyler Farrar, what look like, his second win. He won in 2010 so he was an obvious favorite.

Sprinters are a different breed, throwing caution to the rainy wind, they go full throttle. Marcel Kittel, the German rocket (that's my nickname for him) took over and put it into another gear beating out Farrar and Theo Bos in an all hells sprint. It was pretty terrifying watching them and Farrar admitted,


"It was crazy. I was scared for the last five kilometers."


Twenty-three year old, Kittel is amazing and wins his first classic for the new named Argos-Shimano team. They hope to be invited to this year's Tour and if they do, he will be a good bet to wager on for sprint wins. 

Team SpiderTech had a fantastic ride, too. How good can it be when Simon Lambert-Lemay joined the early breakaway which lasted for most of the race. This helped Canadian sprinter, Guillaume Boivin motor to a brilliant 10th. I was watching cycling.tv and SKY's Alex Dowsett pegged Boivin as a dark horse to win. He's having a great season posting his fifth top-ten result, and he's only twenty-two! 


Noteworthy: Brave ride by FDJ-BigMats Frédéric Guesdon finishing 141st. The Frenchman suffered a hip fracture at the Tour Down Under and his plans to ride his last Paris-Roubaix looked to be a bust. That's not going to happen. It's going to be special for the 40 year-old and the 1997 winner will get ready to ride and finish his career on the Roubaix Velodrome!



High Five!

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