The Belgian powerhouse had numbers in an elite group of 30 riders to contest for the victory, but Alpecin-Fenix delivered a perfectly executed sprint to claim the victory. A dejected Sam Bennett and Mark Cavendish came across the line in second and third, respectively, to round out the podium.
“A lot of good sprinters were at the start, so to win this race is really nice. It’s a high level of sprinters at the finish line who I beat now, so that gives me a lot of confidence in the next races,” Philipsen said. “Like we expected, there was a big fight. All the big names were there. It was clear that we’re going to a bunch sprint in the end.”
Deceuninck-Quick-Step was lining things up for the reduced-bunch sprint, but Alpecin-Fenix charged into the fray to open up the speed early. It seemed to catch the Belgian WorldTour team off-balance, and Bennett was forced to jump on Philipsen’s wheel in the final 200m.
Philipsen, 23, had the legs to finish off the sprint to win for the first time in 2021.
That winning feeling! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Vix6O1cGzO
— Alpecin-Fenix Cycling Team (@AlpecinFenix) April 7, 2021
Echelons early, a big group gone
Wind and cold forced organizers to all but cancel the pre-race protocol. Just days after spring-like weather at Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, riders piled on the layers for a long day in the saddle for one of cycling’s oldest races.
Things were spicy from the start, with some of the lesser players in the bunch livening up the action. Continental team Beat Cycling, which has a “just lease me” banner on the side of its jersey, sent riders in some of the early moves to make the most of its chance to race against the big teams.
Also read: Wind, crashes and chaos
Heavy winds saw the bunch split up early. Crosswinds are always a factor in the first half of Scheldeprijs, and Wednesday’s race was no exception.
The bunch split, and eventually a group of about 30 riders pulled clear. Deceuninck-Quick-Step swarmed the front, and had numbers to drive it home. The winner was going to come from this selection.
— Scheldeprijs (@Scheldeprijs) April 7, 2021
2021 Scheldeprijs Results
- Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), 4:03:30
- Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), at s.t.
- Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), at s.t.
- Danny Van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), at s.t.
- Clément Russo (Team Arkéa-Samsic), at s.t.
- Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), at s.t.
- Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), at s.t.
- Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka-Assos), at s.t.
- Marc Sarreau (AG2R-Citroën), at s.t.
- Dries Vamn Gestel (Team Total Direct Énergie), at s.t.