Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the Scheldeprijs for a second year running in Schoten, Belgium, this year shooting ahead of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). The German now feels as though he has cemented his place as a top sprinter.
"I want to be the best sprinter in the world," Kittel said in a press conference. "I think today was a good step in that direction."
Just down the road from Antwerp, the peloton zipped into Schoten with no team clearly in charge. Argos, Omega Pharma, Sky and others took turns, but in the final kilometres, every man fended for himself.
"In the end, the teams couldn't do a really good lead out," Kittel continued. "I was lucky because I had been boxed in in the last 700 metres. Tom Veelers found me, I was riding through the peloton on the left and he just led me out. I started early, I expected someone to pass me, but I just gave it everything."
Dutchman Barry Markus (Vacansoleil-DCM), just 21 years old, placed third.
Brammeier in escape trio
Matthew Brammeier (Champion System), Stefano Borchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) dominated the early kilometres of the 204.2km race. The trio escaped 18 kilometres into the day.
The peloton - led by Blanco, Omega and Garmin - held them at 3-37 minutes with 75 kilometres to race. The attention at that point was directed more towards Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard). The Tour of Flanders winner crashed 50 kilometres after the start. He continued, but his shorts were ripped and showed a bloody backside.
"It's nothing major," team manager, Luca Guercilena said after the race. "Fabian will be fine for Paris-Roubaix."
Cancellara preferred to stay in the bus.
The race came all together with 26 kilometres to go. At 16.4 kilometres, with one circuit of the Antwerp suburb remaining, it appeared anyone's race to win.
Bernhard Eisel and Geraint Thomas worked for Sky team-mate CJ Sutton. Blanco pushed ahead for Theo Bos and Vacansoleil for Markus. Luke Rowe (Sky) hit the front, before the race shifted in Argos' favour
"I had all the important points of the parcours marked out on my stem," Kittel said. "The points where the team had told us we had to be in the front, where there would cross winds and turns."
He also would have marked the final kilometre, which is typically chaotic and produces crashes. This year, everyone crossed the line safely, Kittel first.
"It was a very important victory for me, just to finish the first part of the spring season with a win," Kittel added. "Now I can go into my next block of training and races relaxed."
Scheldeprijs 2013: Schoten to Schoten, 204km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3. Barry Markus (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
6. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
8. Theo Bos (Ned) Blanco
9. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at same time
25. Jonny McEvoy (GBr) NetApp-Endura at same time
35. Russell Downing (GBr) NetApp-Endura at same time
129. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 46 secs
132. Erick Rowsell (GBr) NetApp-Endura at 46 secs
134. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at 46 secs
151. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar at 1-57
DNF Andy Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuicStep
DNF Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky
Matt Brammeier heads escape group
Marcel Kittel (right) pips Mark Cavendish (centre) to take the win
Scheldeprijs 2013 photo gallery
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