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"The team helped me so much; I did not expect that, because they are here to prepare for Paris-Roubaix.  Fabian [Cancellara] did a fantastic job, he was in front of me, and that is very special, very nice to see that," Van Po...

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

DANNY VAN POPPEL

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SCHELDEPRIJS VLAANDEREN

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09.04.2014 @ 22:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

20-year-old Danny Van Poppel proved that he has the potential to become one of the very big sprinters when he finished third in today's Scheldeprijs, the race known as the world championships for the sprinters. The young Belgian was amazed to have enjoyed the support from Fabian Cancellara who rode wholeheartedly for his young teammate just days ahead of his big goal at Paris-Roubaix.

 

The 200-kilometer Flanders Classic was a perfect opportunity for Trek Factory Racing’s 20-year old Danny van Poppel, and despite only five teammates in the race, he was able to position himself perfectly in the mad dash to the finish and pull off another huge result for the young talent.

 

“I am very happy,” grinned van Poppel immediately after the race. “When I saw [Marcel] Kittel go I knew the win was gone, and I just made my own sprint. Kittel was in his own league – maybe second place was possible, but first place was not an option today. I am glad that there was no crash in the end, it was very crazy, very fast.”

 

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) handedly took the win, as Tyler Farrar placed second just ahead of Danny van Poppel.

 

“The last 20k were very nervous, we all know that this is a sprint race. The team helped me so much; I did not expect that, because they are here to prepare for Paris-Roubaix.  Fabian [Cancellara] did a fantastic job, he was in front of me, and that is very special, very nice to see that.  The other guys all helped me too. And in the last kilometer I was in good wheels - in the sprint I was close to second place.”

 

A six-rider breakaway escaped in the early part of the race made and made for an exciting finish; with 10 kilometers remaining they still had one-minute advantage and a slim chance to succeed to the finish. Behind, the pace increased furiously as teams pressed the accelerator, stretching the peloton into a single line. With five kilometers to go the gap was 25 seconds, as riders from the break attempted solo bids to upset the sprinters.

 

“I never doubted that it was for sure a sprint at the end,” continued van Poppel.  “With Kittel here, I knew for sure that they would bring back the break. I did this race last year with Vacansoleil, but this was the first time I can make the race for me, and with the team riding for me. That was special.”

 

With less than three kilometers remaining, it was all over for the escapees - a perfectly timed catch by the peloton - and the battle between lead out trains began.  Danny van Poppel, with help from Fabian Cancellara and Markel Irizar in the end, was well positioned with one kilometer to go, and he needed only to follow the wheels and make his sprint.

 

“When you have a wheel like Fabian’s to follow, it’s the perfect ride,” added van Poppel. “He told me to get on his wheel and we will pull you to the front. That was amazing. He is able to get through so much easier. Also Markel [Irizar] was there in the end, too.  I was thinking to tell Fabian to stop pulling, though, because I did not want him to risk crashing with Sunday’s big race coming up. But he has so much experience he knows what to do.

 

“It was very nervous, I don’t really like finishes like this. In this race a top five is very good, and that is what I was hoping for. So for me to get third – I am super happy.”

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