The Scheldecross, which ist located at the banks of the river Schelde in Antwerpen is scheduled shortly before the christmas season. This race does not belong to the both series of cross races with a GC, but is contianed in the group of Soudal Classics races, a small group of races which just share parts of the organisation and the title sponsors.
During the last couple of years, this race was well poplulated with world class riders. As the race schedule was shifted one week further in the calendar this year, some of the important riders left Belgium for a training camp in Spain. Wout van Aert, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys decided to leave out this race. Even at the womens race, the peloton was thinned out, as last years winner Katie Compton, World-Cup leader Sophie de Boer and both british girls Helen Wyman and Nikki Harris were missing.
Was it due to the winterly temperatures or the rainy and stormy days before , or was ist the lack of many riders, you can’t tell. But the amount of spectators was smaller than the year before.
On the other hand the races lacked a bit of drama. For nearly all categories there was a clear and undisputed win, without any thrilling duells. The change in track-layout – Erwin Verwecken had inverted the course and shortened the passage in the sand of the banks – did the remaining part, to make the races less thrilling.
It was business as usual for the U17 category. Florian Vermeersch to the lead right at the start and increased it continiously untill the finish. At the end he noted his sixteenth win this season, with a distinct advantage of 43 seconds toward Arne Vrachte finishing second. Andreas Goeman, who won both races last weekend ended up in third place.
While european champio Eli Iserbyt stayed away the race of the juniors category promised to be a bit more interesting. In the beginning Max Gulickx took lead, but could not gain a sufficient gap in front of Jappe Jaspers and Thijs Wolsink. Half-Cross he was caught again by the both riders of Lares-Doltcini. While Jappe Jaspers moved to the front and started to drive away Gulickx managed to respond to the attack of Wolsink. At the end, Jaspers managed to defend his small lead at the finish line, while dutchman Max Gulickx gained second place ahead of his compatriot Thijs Wolsink.
Truly Sanne Cant was the main favorite for the ladies category, as she performed very successfully during the last weeks. Ellen van Loy won the starting sprint one more time an lead the peloton into the field. Coming up to the first U-turn on a small hill, van Loy was stuck to a cushion carrying an advertisement of Soudal Fix-All a brand of industrial glue, and therefore lost a couple of places. Sanne Cant took the lead and extended it from lap to lap until the finish. Elen van Loy proved one more time, that she is in good shape this year and finished second despite of her small “accident” in the beginning. Loes Sels completed the podium.
Last years edition of the Elite Race was a thrilling competition between Niels Albert and the young gun Mathieu van der Poel. But for this time, there was only a short period of close competition between Laurens Sweek who was showing a strong performance on the one side as well as Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Meeusen on the other. But halfcross came and the horse had bolted, Mathieu van der Poel waved byebye to Tom Meeusen caught up Laurens Sweeck and passed him. From now on, the young dutchman rode a race on his own, and finished 43 seconds ahead at the end. Laurens Sweeck rode in between van der Poel and the chasing group of Rob Peeters, Philipp Walsleben, Corne van Kessel und David van der Poel which closed the gap to Tom Meeusen. While Laurens Sweeck finished second, Tom Meeusen managed to escape from the chasing group and gained a short advantage to Rob Peeters who finished fourth at the end.