Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) has won the 2013 Scheldeprijs.
The German sprinter successfully defended his title by narrowly beating Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) who was seeking a record fourth victory.
A bunch sprint ensued after 204km of mainly flat racing, and Kittel emerged victorious after a battle royale among some of the world’s fastest men.
He said: “This is absolutely great, but I have to say that without the teamwork we had today, I couldn’t have done it.
“In the end no team was able to do a very good lead-out. I thought I was boxed in, but Tom Veelers found me and brought me back to the front and did the lead-out perfectly.
“I started to sprint and thought somebody would pass me, but no one did and I took the victory!”
Cavendish had started among the favourites for victory today, and his tilt at Piet Oellibrandt’s 50-year record failed only by inches.
His team-mates rode consistently at the head of the bunch for most of the day, but in the closing kilometres they struggled to maintain their position, causing difficulties for their Manx leader.
“In the sprint I was about 20th position and I was coming, coming, coming, and I went to go with about 250 meters to go but [Roman] Feillu was coming around too.
“So I had to leave about 50 meters more to start. I just ran out of time, you know, and if I’m not in the top five positions it’s usually too far back,” he said.
Cavendish was philisophical about defeat on his daughter’s first birthday, claiming that the support of his family helped put life into perspective.
He also was fulsome in his praise of Kittel, whom he described as one of the best sprinters in the world.
Schlederprijs 2013 – result
1) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Argos Shimano – 4.41
2) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – ST
3) Barry Markus (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
4) Andrea Guardini (ITA) – Astana
5) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
6) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp
7) Kenny Dehaes (BEL) – Lotto Belisol
8) Theo Bos (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling
9) Romain Feillu (FRA) – Vacanasoleil-DCM
10) Michael Van Stayen (BEL) – Topsport Vlaanderen- Baloise