British sprinter Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) has won his first professional race. The 20 year-old talent beat Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) and Gert Steegmans (Quick.Step) in the 95th Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. The 197km race ended in a bunch sprint. “This was my first chance and I took full advantage of it,” said Cavendish at the finish. “It’s my first professional win, but in the last two or three years I was always the fastest of the amateurs. I beat McEwen, who I’ve always looked up to. I just hope I can be the next Robbie McEwen.” McEwen won this race in 2002, but was unable to add to his tally today. “I slowed down and Cavendish came over me,” he said. “Simple. It was a strange sprint. Rabobank went too early and Brown was suddenly on the front. Me too, so I had to go. 20 metres to early. I’m definitely disappointed, but you can’t always win.” Third placed Gert Steegmans couldn’t replicate his teammate Tom Boonen’s 2006 victory. Boonen sat out this year’s race because of stomach problems, but did follow it in the team car. “That was a tumultuous sprint,” said Steegmans. “Weylandt went fairly early, I was only half on his wheel and suddenly my chain jumped. So I couldn’t win.” The race was held on a 149km circuit plus three 16km finishing laps around Antwerp. Riding under good weather conditions, a breakaway of three riders escaped early on: Kevin Van Impe (Quick.Step-Innergetic), Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) and Koos Moerenhout (Rabobank). They were only 1’30 clear with 70km to go, which was never going to be enough to hold off the bunch. Milram, T-Mobile, DFL-Cyclingnews and Predictor-Lotto all combined to chased down the break with 11km to go, and the mass sprint was ensured. Milram led it out for Zabel, with Rabobank gunning for Brown. But the leadouts went too early, forcing Robbie McEwen to mistime his run to the line and be overtaken by Cavendish. Results 1 Mark Cavendish (GBr, T-Mobile Team) 2 Robbie McEwen (Aus, Predictor-Lotto) 3 Gert Steegmans (Bel, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 4 Wouter Weylandt (Bel, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 5 Graeme Brown (Aus, Rabobank) 6 Erik Zabel (Ger, Team Milram) 7 Baden Cooke (Aus, Unibet.com) 8 Daniel Musiol (Ger, Team Wiesenhof-Felt) 9 Steven Caethoven (Bel, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport) 10 Robert Hunter (RSA, Barloworld) Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
A big win today for Mark Cavendish, who beat Robbie McEwen and Gert Steegmans to win the Scheldeprij