2022 Scheldeprijs – Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

Sneaked in between Tour des Flandres and Paris-Roubaix, Scheldeprijs has made for an intermediate point for the classics riders and sprinters to target a race inbetween the two – even though Roubaix takes place a week later this year. 

The Route

198 kilometers and no climbing whatsoever during the day, Scheldeprijs takes place in the flat roads around Antwerp, with an eye on Schoten where the finish will be placed after three laps of a circuit that includes a cobbled sector.

The final circuit will have 17 kilometers in distance and feature the Broekstraat which is 1700 meters. In fairness, it is not unusual for the riders to ride in the gutter, and the sector itself is not narrow so it’s not necessarily a section where crucial attacks can come. It is usually all about the sprint.

One that is not technical. A corner with just under 2.5 kilometer, and a chicane at the entrance of the final kilometer will keep all teams on their toes, but the final straight is a kilometer long and allows for riders to regain position. It’s a flat finish, not the widest but should see a normal sprint. 

The Weather

Horrible! It will be a rough day on the bike, very, very rough. Rain is quite possible, alongside low temperatures, but the riders will be facing strong wind throughout the whole day. It will come from the southwest, which means that right from the start there should be chaos. The roads are as flat and exposed as they could be, there will be tail and crosswinds almost all the way into the final circuit. The sprint should be rather covered, but in case things do come down to a bunch sprint, a bit of a tailwind is expected. 

The Favourites 

Jasper Philipsen & Tim Merlier – Will having both sprinters here be beneficial or bad for the team? At least one will need full focus as echelons are likely. Having two cards means better chances of having one in front, however it may not be easy as both will need good support to have the legs. 

Fabio Jakobsen – He has been a dominant sprinter this season. Not the best rider for a hard day of riding, however Quick-Step are specialists in this situation so I do believe they’ll be able to setup Jakobsen quite well if they need to. 

Arnaud de Lie – A wildcard, still young however de Lie has proved to have the speed inbetween the best. Lotto Soudal are no stranger to such racing, and they’ll have to work towards his chances for a sprint. 

Sam Bennett – BORA have a very strong team full of powerhouses. Bennett has not been at his best this year, however he isn’t overly out of form. Being in the crucial move is important and I think BORA can play their cards well.  

Dylan Groenewegen – As Jakobsen, he is likely to suffer if the race blows up. Will BikeExchange be in the right move? If so he has good chances, but it will not be an easy task for the Dutch. 

It’s a sprinter’s classic though. The wind will do a lot of damage, but there are no climbs to make difference and a bunch sprint is still to be expected. Which names it will include is a different question. If the race is split enough, with one or two teams having a big majority of numerical presence in front it is possible to see solo or small group attacks succeed, but it’s still unlikely. 

There are some more top sprinters wo should be able to dream of a win such as Alexander Kristoff and the UAE Team Emirates duo of Pascal Ackermann and Juan Sebastián Molano. Some more sprinters will be hoping to be in the right moves, and be able to fight for the top places such as Trek’s Matteo Moschetti and Jon Aberasturi, Cofidis’ Szymon Sajnok, TotalEnergies’ Niccolò Bonifazio, DSM’s Cees Bol and Alberto Dainese, Bardiani’s Filippo Fiorelli, Uno-X’s Kristoffer Halvorsen and Bingoal’s Timothy Dupont and Stanislaw Aniolkowski 

As for possible offensive outsiders, looking at individual names is complicated, but looking at the teams who usually thrive in crosswinds like Quick-Step and BORA, you can find some rouleurs in there who in the right scenario can be dangerous.  

Prediction Time 

⭐⭐⭐Jakobsen, Merlier, Philipsen ⭐⭐S.Bennett, De Lie, Kristoff ⭐Groenewegen, Ackermann, Molano, Moschetti, Bonifazio, Bol, Halvorsen 

I think Quick-Step will try to blow up the bunch early on and work together towards a sprint for Fabio Jakobsen. They have the experience, the firepower and the leader to make it work their way. 

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