Defending champion Fabio Jakobsen headlines our squad for Wednesday’s event.
Last year, the organisers of Flanders’ oldest race decided to alter the course and have the bunch spend more than two thirds of the race in the Netherlands, a change which impacted heavily on the final outcome, turning the 106th edition into a proper race of attrition. The day abounded in punctures, crashes, mechanicals and splits – mainly due to the gruelling weather – which whittled down the peloton to a small group. From there, after a perfect lead-out of Michael Mørkøv, Fabio Jakobsen sprinted to a resounding victory and became the youngest winner of Scheldeprijs this century.
A neo-pro at that time, the now 22-year-old Dutchman returns at the start of the race that will stick to last season’s route, hoping to be again in the mix. Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who tops the UCI World Team Classification for the 53rd straight week, will also bring to Terneuzen, from where the 203.3km-long race rolls out on Wednesday morning, Tim Declercq, Alvaro Hodeg, Iljo Keisse, Davide Martinelli, Danish Champion Michael Mørkøv and Le Samyn winner Florian Sénéchal.
“Scheldeprijs is flat, but this doesn’t mean it’s an easy race. Actually, it can be quite brutal and unpredictable, as for more than 140 kilometers the peloton will ride in open fields and on narrow roads, so in case of a strong wind, it could be chaos out there. That’s why you need to remain focused at all times. We won last year and we’re aiming again for a good result. We come here with two young sprinters who will be supported by strong and intelligent riders that can feel the race like nobody else, so we look with optimism to this challenge”, sports director Tom Steels said of the event which Deceuninck – Quick-Step has won five times so far.
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