After crossing a railroad under red light, 35 riders were disqualified from the race today. Therefore, just less than 60 riders finished today’s 106th edition of the Scheldeprijs. BORA – hansgrohe was represented well going into the last lap around Schoten, as Pascal Ackermann took a strong second place in the final sprint.
In 2018, the Scheldeprijs was held on a new parkour. From Terneuzen, on the coast of the Ostsee, the first half of the race was always close to the sea, on windy and open roads, exceptionally exposed to winds from all directions. After 147 kilometers, the finish line in Schoten was crossed for the first time, before the peloton had to do a 20k lap three times. Even the whole race was always close to sea level with no elevation at all, it was still expected to be a hard day in the saddle with lots of crosswinds.
The Team Tactics
Already in the last semi-classic races in Belgium, Pascal Ackermann was the BORA – hansgrohe leader. Being one of the fastest riders in the bunch, with the ability of coping well with crosswinds, Pascal was also today the protected rider of the German squad. With Schwarzmann, Kolar, Baska, Selig and Pelucchi, BORA – hansgrohe had an exceptional fast line-up in the race, but the decisive part was to bring as many guys as possible into the last 60 kilometers. Therefore, the main task was to always stay together in the bunch, to be able to react as a team to any crosswind situation, as splits were already expected in the first part of the race.
After the expected fast start with plenty of attempts right from the gun, a first group of eight riders went away from the bunch. But in crosswinds, the peloton did also set a high pace and splits happened during the chase of the leaders. In the first hour the riders covered more than 49 kilometers and the breakaway was already reeled in again. After the bunch had regrouped, another break of five went up the road. With 90k of racing, the gap between the leaders and the peloton was up to 3:30. But when the peloton increased the pace once again, the leaders where caught fast, while another time the bunch did splint into several groups. One of the groups behind tried to pass a railroad under red light, and therefore got disqualified. For Demare and Groenewegen the race was over, like for Rudi Selig from BORA – hansgrohe. But with Ackermann, Baska, Schwarzmann, Pfingsten and Pelucchi, the German WorldTeam was very well presented among the remaining 60 riders in the bunch, with Katusha setting the pace going into the finishing circuit. In the last lap, more riders were in difficulties after a hard day in the saddle and just 30 riders competed in a sprint final. While Schwarzmann and Pfingsten did fight hard to position Ackermann at the head of the bunch, Pascal caught a tumble and nearly crashed with 500m to go. But the young German made his way through on the home straight, finding himself in second behind F. Jakobsen.
From the Finish Line
“We were concentrated from the beginning today and every time the bunch did split, we were up there with plenty of guys. In the end five of us made it to the finishing circuit and especially Schwarzi (Schwarzmann) and Pfingsti (Pfingsten) did a great job to keep me in position. In the sprint I was blocked on the left side, and nearly crashed once. But I think this second place was the maximum after a tough day racing in crosswinds.” – Pascal Ackermann