A brilliant sprint is what it took for Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) to move into second place of the UCI EuropeTour rankings in April. The German sprinter won the Scheldeprijs, one of the only Flanders Classics that escaped from the dominating clutches of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep formation.
For a long time organized just after Paris-Roubaix and seen as a revenge race, it is now raced just a few days beforehand, serving as a last rehearsal. In a long, tumultuous and rain-soaked sprint, Kittel got the better of Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda).
He succeeds Mark Cavendish (Sky) in the event’s record books, and more than a few predict that he is the one who could endanger the World Champion on the roads of the Tour de France. "I'm waiting to have a direct sprint against him", told Kittel. "This year we've not had that opportunity but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. I want to test myself against him."
Kittel, aged 24, moves up eight places in the UCI EuropeTour. He has 211 points, 75 fewer than the British leader Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing), who animated the early part of the season but has not added any points since the end of March. The Czech Jan Barta (Team NetApp), winner of the Tour de Cologne, is now third with 183.6 points.
Despite his move up the rankings, Kittel cannot be considered as a favourite for the overall victory as he is sharing out his racing over several different calendars: UCI EuropeTour, UCI WorldTour and even the UCI OceaniaTour – with the Herald Sun Tour – and UCI AmericaTour – with the Tour of California. It is the same situation for French rider Julien Sinon (Saur-Sojasun) who moved from 43rd to 7th in hierarchy thanks to his victory in the Tour du Finistère and his 3rd place in the Route Adélie.
On the other hand, other key players in April will certainly continue to chase points over the next weeks, notably the Italian Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), winner of la route Adélie and the Flèche d’Emeraude, or his compatriot Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF-Colnago), who triumphed in the very difficult Tour du Trentin.
Endura Racing loses its lead in the teams rankings. With 569.3 points, it is now behind Saur-Sojasun (725 points), the team that even manages to win stages of UCI WorldTour races when invited to these events. The Team NetApp is third with 510 points.
A tough match is being played out in the nations rankings between last month’s leader France (1209 points) and Italy (1297 points), overall winner on several occasions and which made up for lost ground throughout April.