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Fabio Jakobsen wins action-packed Scheldeprijs

Joe Robinson
4 Apr 2018

Quick-Step Floors rider wins an action-packed race that saw the race favourites dumped out of contention

Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors) wins the 2018 Scheldeprijs after many of the pre-race favourites falter in demanding conditions. The young Dutchman unleashed his sprint with 200m remaining and took the victory comfortably.

A small group of no more than 30 riders came to the finish after rain, wind, trains and cars reduced the peloton to a select few.

The first 100km passed relatively stress-free before bursting into life with multiple dramatic incidents including a crash into a parked car, a moving car on the race course and a selection of race favourites disqualified for jumping across a closed rail crossing.

Disqualification for Arnaud Demare and Dylan Groenewegen and a late puncture for Marcel Kittel saw the three pre-race favourites all absent in the race for victory.

Jakobsen win continues the incredible streak of victories from the Quick-Step Floors team who have already taken 24 wins at last count.

How today happened

The 2018 Scheldeprijs course saw a makeover from the year previous. Race organisers decided they were bored with the previous route, this year deciding to take the peloton along the coastal roads of Zeeland, the Netherlands before finishing in Schoten, Belgium.

What this change of course meant ultimately was crosswinds. The first 125km took on extremely exposed roads which in the past has seen professional bike races shattered into pieces as echelons form across the wide roads.

The undying favourite was Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) who with five victories is the most successful rider ever at the Scheldeprijs. His main competition was going to come in the form of flying Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Arnuad Demare (Groupama-FDJ).

Unfortunately, the first 50km remained slightly underwhelming with a two-man breakaway of Jan-Willem van Schip (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) and Jonas Rickaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) being the only riders to escape the grasp of the peloton. These were then joined by a trio of riders including Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

The race burst into sudden life with just under 100km remaining. As the wind began to cause splinters within the main peloton, a group of high profile riders in a chase group got caught the wrong side of a closing rail crossing.

Those riders took a chance and jumped across only to have justice served with the race jury quickly laying down the law, ejecting the riders. Among those given the boot were pre-race favourites Gronenewegen and Demare alongside Ian Stannard (Team Sky).

With that drama out of the way, the race settled back down in to normality with Katush-Alpecin heading back to the front of affairs confident in the knowledge they were no longer fighting their premium rivals.

Owain Doull (Team Sky) and Antoine Duchesne (Groupama-FDJ) rolled the dice and quickly notched up a 1 minute 30 second lead with less than 40km remaining.

As the rain began to fall heavy the peloton fragmented further. The panic resulted into unsure riding and unfortunately saw a small group of riders crash into a parked car. 

It looked truly miserable as the riders race through the wet Belgian towns with the main peloton seemingly getting smaller and smaller at every turn.

Katusha-Alpecin seemed happy to control the chase of the two race leaders slowly bringing the gap to within 40 seconds with less than 25km remaining. It seemed with his main rivals gone, Kittel would be given a clean run into the race finish. 

Doull and Duchesne continued on with their mighty effort, managing to weather the chase of Katusha, holding a gap of 36 seconds as they raced into the final 20km.

As we all began to become lulled into boredom by the chokehold Katusha had placed on the race attacks began to be launched, namely by the scarred LottoNL-Jumbo who has previously lost Gronewegen. It was Maarten Wynants who decided to make the jump.

Within 15km to go, race outsider Hodeg suffered a puncture and a slowish bike change saw him distanced from the lead group. Not long after Hodeg was dealt some bad luck disaster struck for Kittel who also punctured.

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