In the time of spring classics, there is rarely a dull moment for a WorldTour-team like Israel Start-Up Nation. ISN’s riders, who shine on the chilly and wet (sometimes cobbled) roads of Belgium, are warming up once again for a big one: De Scheldeprijs.
We are reaching the end of the cobbled classics campaign (unfortunately a few days earlier than expected, after the postponement of Paris-Roubaix). However, the Scheldeprijs – affectionately dubbed the ‘world championships for sprinters’, is a last, important race for ISN in a series of (semi) spring classics this spring.
Much doubt before final confirmation was given
For a long time, it was unknown whether the Scheldeprijs would be able to stay on the 2021-calendar. With the race starting in the Netherlands and finishing in Belgium, the peloton would have to cross borders. Given the fact that both countries are experiencing serious lockdowns, the race had to conform to strict regulations.
However, on the last day of March, both countries gave the official confirmation.
A few changes had to be made: the start will now be outside the picturesque town of Terneuzen and the riders will avoid city centers along the route to Belgium.
Last year: Israeli sprinter Einhorn in top-10
Unlike last year, there are a few ‘cobbled sections’ in the Belgian part of the race, but they are barely worth mentioning. Similar to last year, the course is pretty much flat.
Last year it was Itamar Einhorn, who experienced his break-through year with the first Israeli professional cycling victory, that finished ninth in so-called ‘unofficial world championships for sprinters’. This year Rudy Barbier, Davide Cimolai and Hugo Hofstetter want to improve ISN’s result from last season.
Hofstetter knows he has the legs to perform in the Scheldeprijs. In the ‘pinnacle’ of spring classics lats Sunday, the Tour of Flanders, he was with the best riders until the very end, resulting in a 24th place.
Along with Guillaume Boivin, Jenthe Biermans and Tom Van Asbroeck, who all started in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday. Norman Vahtra is the last domestique supporting the sprinting vultures.
Vahtra: ‘We are not done yet’
Vahtra says he has been having great fun in the number of (semi-) spring classics he raced with Israel Start-Up Nation. He rode six consecutive one-day-races in the month of March, and the Omloop het Nieuwsblad at the end of February.
The 24-year-old Estonian road race champion said he learned a lot. “It was great to race with experienced classic specialists, but the cobbled classics season is not over yet. The Scheldeprijs is another very important race for Israel Start-Up Nation. We are not tired yet and are full of morale.”
Team ISN’s line-up for Scheldeprijs (07/04):
- Norman Vahtra
- Jenthe Biermans
- Guillaume Boivin
- Davide Cimolai
- Tom Van Asbroeck
- Hugo Hofstetter
- Rudy Barbier
Sports directors: Dirk Demol and Eric van Lancker