VeloHuman caught up with a few riders at the start of Scheldeprijs in Antwerp. It’s a race that almost always ends in a bunch sprint with most of the pre-race favorites in contention for a high-speed win, but there was general consensus among the three participants interviewed that a Cav- and Kittel-less startlist might make things a bit more interesting this year. . . .
Daniel McLay (Bretagne-Séché Environnement)
The team has a few different quick men here. What’s the plan today?
I think it’s 99% sure this race is going to be a sprint, though obviously, other stuff can happen. I think we’ll see the race, how everyone’s feeling. Normally Romain [Feillu] will do his own thing in the final because that’s how he likes to ride the final, and then between me and [Yauheni] Hutarovich, we’ll decide and help each other and do something in the finish.
It’s Bretagne-Séché Environnement’s first big Classics race since Het Nieuwsblad and KBK. Do you think there might be a bit of system shock riding with alongside guys who have been in Classics mode for a few weeks now from E3 through Flanders?
I don’t think in this race. Shouldn’t be a big issue really, everyone’s had good prep, either Paris-Nice or Catalunya or another stage race, so the level is sort of . . . obviously there’s more big guys but I think the biggest tell will be Sunday in Roubaix. Today will be . . . well I’d say straightforward but it’s never straightforward . . . it’s a 99% chance of sprint but obviously it’s a complicated finish and you have to be good to do something.
Is this a good prep for Roubaix then?
For me. I took a little of rest after the last races because I’d felt like I’d done a lot of race days. So I think it will be a good 200 k today. Maybe not for the guys who have been doing endless amounts of one-days, maybe they don’t need 200 k today, but I think it will be good for me.
Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Several big names here, what’s the play with these options for LottoNL?
We’ve got two good guys, me and Barry, so we’ve got our chances today, and we’ll hope for a good result, because we need it!
Is it a nice change of pace racing Scheldeprijs, a bit less challenging than, say Flanders?
Yeah, it’s a nice change, of course. We had shit weather the last few weeks, with Gent-Wevelgem, which was the top of the shit weather. So it’s a nice change to have some sunny days and some flat terrain.
Rivals you have your eyes on for today?
I think MTN has a good chance with Theo Bos and Tyler Farrar, so maybe they have one of the best teams today for a sprint eventually. Some other good guys, Danny van Poppel also from Trek, also big chance, 3rd last year. Team Sky, Viviani also. They have some other guys in the group like Wiggins and Thomas so I don’t know.
Any chance someone gets away and stays away in this race?
I think if there is a chance for a group to stay away, it will be today. Big names aren’t here today, the best chance would be today for no sprint . . . but I don’t know, it’s going to be hard to not have a sprint.
Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare)
Any chance this doesn’t end in a sprint?
I’d say there’s about a ten percent chance. . . . No Cavendish, No Kittel . . .
What’s the UHC strategy here?
We’ll try to get into the breakaway and then we’ve got two guys here for the sprint, one of whom [Robert Forster] was 3rd here in 2010.
And your role for today?
Well I’ll try to get up into the breakaway, and then maybe help out in the sprint.