Scheldeprijs: Alexander Kristoff propels alone to victory

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Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) escaped an elite breakaway to win the 110th edition of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday.

Kristoff jumped with about 7km to go after a group of 14 riders fended off a chasing group to win the picture alone in the Belgian Classic final.

The 34-year-old Norwegian put his head down and took victory against a disorganized pursuit. Kristoff hit the red kite with a gap of 24 seconds and had plenty of time to celebrate.

Danny Van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe) crossed the line second, followed by Sam Welsford (Team DSM) third.

“It was a difficult race. Bora and Alpecin were attacking on the last lap, and I was suffering because I was alone. At the end of the cobblestones, I thought I was going to try and nobody followed,” said said Kristoff “I just pushed everything I could and had good legs in the final. It’s good to win solo. It’s one of the few victories I’ve won solo.

Kristoff snuck into the front rungs that shattered the peloton as the race opened along the great Dutch coast.

“I usually start off pretty slow, but I was ready from the start and got some good help from my teammates before the ladder split,” Kristoff said. “I saw Bora there with a lot of runners, but it was quite tight for the chasing group. Bora had the manpower, but they also had to work more. Today I finally managed to doing it alone, so it was a great win for us.

It’s another big win in the Classics for the Belgian WorldTour team who also won Ghent-Wevelgem with Binian Girmay last month.

The win was No. 83 for Kristoff whose track record also includes Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs in 2015.

Strong winds swept the race from the start and a group of 14 riders managed to extract themselves within the first hour of racing. It was a touch and go but the leaders cooperated to ensure the gap stayed on the line to carry a winning gap in the final 25km to go.

The riders started attacking out of the peloton with around 15km to go. Bora Hansgrohe had numbers with four riders in the group, with Alpecin-Fenix ​​placing his two sprinters with Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen.

Merlier cleared with 10 km, attracting some pursuers. The DSM team surged forward with 9km to go, and it was a series of counterattacks down the line.

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), the Irish sprinter who has struggled with knee injuries for the past 18 months, came out of the lead group with just under 9km to go.

Kristoff hit the cobbles with 7.5km to go as the rain began to fall on the peloton, and he never looked back.

Ed Teuns (Trek-Segafredo) finally gave chase following Kristoff’s push 6km from the finish, with all the pressure on Alpecin-Fenix ​​to take charge of the chase.

Kristoff opened up a 15-second corner with 5k to go when Merlier finally jumped.

Welsford, a former track driver, said he was happy with a top podium finish.

“The attacks really started at the end. I was lucky to chase them, at the end, to finish third,” Welsford said. “The wind was really strong. We are lucky to have a small group and we worked well together. It was a super tough day there. It’s my first year on the road and I come across the track in Australia. I hope I can sprint with the best one day.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl missed the split and was forced to hunt all day. Despite the presence of pre-race favorite Fabio Jakobsen, the team waved the white flag about 25 km from the finish.

Quick-Step misses early split

Quick-Step missed the decisive breakaway of the day early in the race. (Photo: JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

High winds and cool temperatures greeted the peloton for the 110th edition of Scheldeprijs, one of the oldest ongoing classics on the calendar.

Winds were blowing up to 25 to 30 mph in the first few miles across the exposed plains of the Netherlands, and the group fractured into echelons faster than expected.

The peloton separated about 30km into the race, with a big fight to stay ahead.

Several big names came out on top, but Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl missed the mark, which meant a long day chasing after the struggling “Wolfpack.”

A group of 14 riders opened a gap to set the tone for the rest of the race.

Jasper Philipsen and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), Alexander Kristoff (Intermarche-Gobert), Sam Bennett and three other Bora-Hansgrohe teammates among the top riders snuck into the group.

The gap hovered around a minute as the leaders worked together to try to widen the gap to the pursuers. Behind, there was not much cohesion and the group separated again under the pressure of the howling winds.

With around 25km to go, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and the other chasers appeared to be waving the white flag.

It was another mistake by the Belgian classics unit, a team that was once feared in the northern classics. The team is riddled with injuries and illnesses, and despite the presence of pre-race favorite Fabio Jakobsen, the team was left with nothing.

The urgency of the hunt was gone, and it was obvious that the winner was going to come from the leading group.

Next up on the classics calendar is Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, which runs a week earlier than normal due to the French national elections this weekend in France. Paris-Roubaix will be played on April 17.

About Pia Miller

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