Kristoff solos to second victory in Schoten
The Norwegian Alexander Kristoff took his second victory in the Scheldeprijs after an 8km solo effort. He rode away from the leading group on Broekstraat, which formed in Zeeland after an echelon festival. Danny van Poppel finished second, ahead of Sam Welsford.
The weather conditions were similar to a year ago: wind and rain. After the start signal, which sounds at 12:45 in Terneuzen, it is waiting for the first breaks in the peloton. With just 28 km ridden, a breakaway of around 17 riders forms during the wind festival in Zeeland. Among them are the Alpecin Fenix duo Philipsen-Merlier, former winner Kristoff (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux), Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe).
Who missed out is Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team. The team of one of the favourites, Fabio Jakobsen, has no pawn in the first group. Also Groenewegen (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), De Lie (Lotto Soudal) and Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) are missing in the front. The men of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team do everything they can. At first, the gap is reduced to under 40 seconds, but in the streets of Schoten, the leading group, which now consists of 14 riders, can hold on to its lead and even expand it.
It was a tough race and that was noticeable in the leading group. Wærenskjold (Uno-X Pro Cycling) had to say goodbye at the front and Bennett's face also showed a grimace at about 30 km from the finish. The chasers lose ground and see the lead of the front group increase to over one minute.
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At the front it is looking forward to see how the men of Bora-hansgrohe will tackle the final. They are represented by no less than four riders in the first group. The question is if leader Bennett still has energy in the tank, because at 11 km from the finish the Irishman has to close a gap. The presence of the Merlier-Philipsen duo encourages an attack. First Bennett's teammate Meeus tries it, then Mullen takes his chance. Merlier himself also joins the race. The lead on the second group is now more than two minutes. The winner is in front.
At the last passage on Broekstraat former winner Kristoff (Intermarché- Wanty) accelerates strongly. The chasers had some doubts but the Norwegian started a solo effort. The gap quickly increases to 20 seconds. Behind the leader there is one acceleration after the other, but they hesitate every time. The gap can't be closed anymore. After winning in 2015, Kristoff soloed to his second victory in the Scheldeprijs. In the final sprint, Danny van Poppel (Bora-hansgrohe) rushes to second place, ahead of Sam Welsford (Team DSM).