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Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took the win in the 2020 Scheldeprijs, riding the wheels of a UAE Team Emirates train.
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was disqualified for cutting across the wheel of August Jensen (Riwal Securitas) resulting in a massive pile-up right at the finish line.
The “Pocket Rocket” said, “It’s one of the biggest sprint classics there is, and I haven’t won a Classic of this level in Belgium before, so this is super nice.”
Ewan won two stages in the 2020 Tour de France, exchanging wins with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) while the Irishman was on his way to securing the green jersey.
COVID-19 restrictions forced a last-minute route change, with the new parcours a 17.3km circuit raced for 10 laps.
A break featuring Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren), Piotr Havik (Riwal Securitas), Luc Wirtgen (Bingoal – Wallonie Bruxelles), Michael Schär (CCC), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Lewis Askey (Groupama-FDJ), Christopher Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott), and American Travis McCabe (Israel Start-Up Nation) got away after a failed, two-man break was attempted early on in the race.
The octet got a maximum advantage of nearly 90 seconds and stayed away from the main bunch for nearly the entire day, until less than 35km remained.
Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb), the winner of the recent Paris-Tours, crashed on the second lap and was forced to abandon.
In the final 17.4km lap, attacks came quickly, furiously, and continuously, with Havik — still away in the remains of the break — trying to keep away from the peloton.
At 8km remaining, sprint trains formed by Deceuninck-Quick-Step for Bennett, and Lotto-Soudal for Ewan. Alexander Kristoff took the wheel of Jasper Philipsen (both UAE Team Emirates), but it was Ewan who was able to come across the line first, off the wheels of the UAE Team Emirates sprint train.
Behind the pint-sized Australian pocket rocket, Ackermann swung across the road, crashing out Jensen. The big German was disqualified resulting in Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Énergie) and Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels – Vital Concept) being elevated to second and third on the day.
Cavendish, who had featured in the big breakaway of the day, finished in 143rd in what may have been his final race as a pro.
The Manxman sat up with two laps to go and appeared to emotionally wave off a tv camera and neutral support moto.
“I don’t want to stop. I love this sport,” Cav told Belgian media. ”But this might have been my last race. I was looking forward to this race and I was enjoying racing in Belgium. It’s pure racing like when I was a kid again. I don’t have a desire to stop.”
2020 Scheldeprijs results
1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), 3:34:38
2. Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie), at s.t.
3. Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept), at s.t.
4. Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), at s.t.
5. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), at s.t.
6. Amaury Capiot (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), at s.t.
7. Arvid De Kleijn (Riwal Readynez), at s.t.
8. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), at s.t.
9. Itamar Einhorn (Israel Start-Up Nation), at s.t.
10. Romain Cardis (Total Direct Energie), at s.t.