Blaz Jarc sprints to 4th place at Schaal Sels
Today’s 87th run of the Belgian one-day race Schaal Sels with the start and finish in Merksem traveled over a good 204 kilometers. Under extreme conditions with wind, rain and storm, Niko Eeckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly) won with a solo ride in front of Christian Bertilsson (Cykelcity.se) and Jempy Drucker (Accent Jobs-Willems Verandas). Team NetApp’s Blaz Jarc sprinted to fourth place.
The race ran through narrow lanes and over long cobblestone passages, as if made for many attacks, which began right after the start. Nonetheless, the bunch did not allow the attackers to pull away completely. However, after 30 kilometers a trio was able to set itself apart and was to become the decisive group. Again and again riders closed up the gap and yet had to fall back again. Team NetApp tried to latch on to the lead group with counter attacks, but due to many defects on the cobblestone passages was caught by the bunch. On the final rounds Team NetApp finally set the tempo in order to reel in the last chasing riders. Winner Niko Eeckhout, represented in the lead group since the beginning, was the only one who was able to save his slight advantage of 30 seconds into the finish before the bunch set up the mass sprint.
“That was again a Belgian race par excellence. Storm, rain, cobblestones, crosswind, defects and crashes – I’ve seldom experienced so much bad luck all at once. In the worst moment, three defects within 50 meters and another on the final rounds. The boys really had to fight today, but performed really well. They were represented in all the chasing rider groups, set the tempo on the closing 50 kilometers, thus setting up the sprint for Blaz. We can be more than satisfied with fourth place,” Jens Heppner noted following the race.