Marcel Kittel won his third consecutive GP Scheldeprijs in Schoten, Belgium, Wednesday. Kittel (Giant-Shimano) left no doubt with a powerful kick in the finale of the 201-kilometer sprinters’ classic, which started in Antwerpen.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was second and Danny Von Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) was third.
“It really means a lot for me to win here for the third time, especially after a superb job by my teammates,” said Kittel. “Everyone was looking to us today, so it wasn’t easy to defend the race, but we did it.”
Six riders broke free of the peloton in the opening kilometers and immediately opened a gap of more than a minute. The group, which consisted of Andrea Fedi (Yellow Fluo), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Luke Rowe (Sky), Ivan Balykin (RusVelo), Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare), and Jan Ghyselinck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), was given the freedom to put in more time on the peloton in the next 50km, topping out at more than five minutes.
The gap began falling around the midway point of the race, and with 70km left it was down to just over two minutes. Giant, Lotto-Belisol, Astana, and Belkin dove the pace at the sharp end of the main field.
With 50km remaining, the escape held an advantage of 2:15.
Rowe stretched his legs, going alone with 6km remaining. With 5km to go, the escape’s gap finally sunk below 30 seconds, with Rowe dangling a further four seconds up the road.
Behind them, Ag2r La Mondiale and Giant took up the chase at the head of the bunch.
Fedi countered the catch of Rowe, but with 3km to go, the escape was finished.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step led out the sprint, but Kittel powered up the left side of the road, jumping off Alessandro Petacchi’s (Omega Pharma) wheel, for a clear victory.
“I knew that I can go early because we had tailwind there,” said Kittel. “My plan was to go at 250 [meters], 280, early, and I knew I had a punch to the finish line.”
Farrar followed through two bikes lengths later, just holding off a surging Van Poppel.
There was nothing to do against Kittel today, so I have to be happy with second,” said Farrar. “We know that Giant-Shimano is the No. 1 leadout team right now in the sprints, so Kittel’s wheel was the one to be on. We have a strong team, but not one to get past them, so I am proud of the boys. They put me in a perfect spot for the sprint to get on Kittel’s wheel.”
Petacchi finished fourth.