Michael Van Staeyen made himself heard with a great podium place in the Schaal Sels Merksem. The Antwerp rider sprinted to third in his home race. “I was already 2nd, 3rd and 5th here. But a win is still missing.”
The Schaal Sels Merksem, the sixth race in the Bingoal Cycling Cup, was already at its 94th edition. The race received a makeover last year and went back to the roots, with local laps in and around the Antwerp district of Merksem. After a first lap the race was halted for a moment by the peloton which paused at the finish line. The riders wanted to discuss some unsafe spots on the course. The organization immediately reacted by making some adjustments so the race could quickly resume, now eight adapted laps of 16 km.
Just like last year a sprint would decide over the race winner. Attilio Viviani, (team Cofidis) proved to be the fastest. Van Staeyen rode a great sprint and finished third on the ‘Bredabaan’. A great result for the Antwerp rider, who had already won two kermesses in recent weeks. “The last few weeks have been going well”, the sprinter confirms. “I had a few good results, but in Zottegem and Veenendaal I felt heavy. Maybe I had been training too hard?”
Van Staeyen lives in the neighboring municipality of Schoten and was keen on a great performance in his own region. “I was well prepared for this race. It’s a home race and that motivates me. Moreover, it suits me. I was already 2nd, 3rd and 5th here. But a win is still missing. I would have loved get the win here today. If you look at my sprint, I think I could have too.”
“Maybe I wasn’t that well positioned going into the last corner. Of course I knew I had to be at the front. But first you already have a sprint towards the last kilometer and then towards the last corner. So everyone knows that you have to be at the front. I couldn’t really get through, otherwise I might have gotten closer to victory.”
However, with a third place, Van Staeyen and Roompot – Charles Cycling Team got another excellent race result. A welcome boost in this phase of the season. “This is not bad with a view to the future … with another team or with this one if we can find a new sponsor. I hope we can continue with this team. We really have a good group of riders who also work well together. You can see that in our races. It would be a shame if that stopped.”