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“Simply, I was not good enough. It was a long sprint and for one moment I thought he was tired and I could get him, but then he went again. It was not possible…”

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

DANNY VAN POPPEL

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SCHELDEPRIJS VLAANDEREN

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08.04.2015 @ 21:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 103rd edition of the Scheldeprijs was the usual 200-kilometer affair beginning in Antwerp and finishing in Schoten and also played out in a routine manner. Although the race is part of the Flanders Classics the absence of climbs and limited sectors of cobbles makes it easily controlled for the fastmen; it is a rare opportunity for the pure sprinters during the Belgian spring, and this year was no different.

 

The seven-man breakaway departed around the 30-kilometer mark and was gifted a lead, albeit not big, as most teams, including Trek Factory Racing, had the same goal: bring their designated sprinter to the line to battle it out in a fast, furious finish. 

 

The peloton played with the escapees like a yo-yo, bringing them within 90 seconds, before letting their gap grow to over two minutes again.  It was too early to bring them back into the fold.

 

Team Katusha shouldered most of the responsibility in the pursuit as they worked for the on-fire Alexander Kristoff and the breakaway was finally reeled in for good less than six kilometers from the finish.

 

Trek Factory Racing bided their time until the last crucial kilometers. Jasper Stuyven provided van Poppel the final crucial assistance, placing the young sprinter in prime sprinting position.

 

“We were a little bit too far back and I saw Katusha coming by and thought I should bring Danny to the front quickly. Right after we went to the front there was a big crash behind us. So I went full gas to the front and brought him to the wheel of Kristoff and then it was up to him. I think I did the best job I could," Stuyven said.

 

Kristoff, fresh off his big victory in the Tour of Flanders, was the first to jump and no one could match the Norwegian’s power and speed. Danny van Poppel had his wheel but faded in the final meters and settled for fifth. For van Poppel , it was not good enough.

 

“I am disappointed because I wanted to thank the boys with a podium,” said a dejected van Poppel. “Simply, I was not good enough. It was a long sprint and for one moment I thought he was tired and I could get him, but then he went again. It was not possible…”

 

Many riders use Scheldeprijs as a tune-up for Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Thankfully Trek Factory Racing avoided the large pile-up in the final kilometer, a nasty fast-speed crash.

 

“It was an easy race, and it was good to turn the legs after the Tour of Flanders,” added Stuyven. “I felt good and in the finale I had power in the legs so  it turned out perfect to have an easy 200k with a hard finale to test the legs a little before Sunday.”

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