GENT, Belgium (VN) — Belgian Sep Vanmarcke says that bad moments come and go in cycling and that Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen performance was one that already went. He now looks ahead to Paris-Roubaix.
In northern France this Sunday, he wants to do something similar to 2013 when he placed second to Swiss Fabian Cancellara — or better. The result would help wash clean the dirty spot that was ‘De Ronde,’ four days ago in Belgium.
In front of a home crowd and one of the pre-race favorites, Vanmarcke failed. His yellow LottoNL-Jumbo jersey was noticeable not because it was in the group of favourites with eventual winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), but because the television cameras kept showing the home star chasing desperately to make up ground.
“For me, they are two races I’m normally good at,” Vanmarcke said ahead of the Scheldeprijs one-day race Wednesday in Antwerp.
“I hope to turn it around in Roubaix and have a really good race because of last week was really bad.”
Vanmarcke fell apart with 37 kilometers to race on the Taaienberg climb. He was not near the front, and after the climb, he was off the back and chasing. By the finish, he trailed by 3:29.
“It was a bad moment. I had a bad moment,” he added.
“I maybe waited too long to try to bridge the gap. Then I couldn’t get in the front anymore, and it was over.
“I was focused, but maybe I wasn’t thinking enough about what was happening in that moment, and a little too far back, and everything all together, and I lost my ground.”
Vanmarcke’s star status fell somewhat after Flanders. He is still considered a Roubaix favorite, but not so much like 2014 winner Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick-Step) or last week’s Flanders winner, Kristoff, the Norwegian.
“That’s fine by me,” Vanmarcke added. “I’ll still try to win.”
If he won, he would be the first Belgian winner since Tom Boonen in 2012. Perhaps more importantly, he would give LottoNL a much needed point on the scoreboard. Right now, the Dutch WorldTour team has zero victories.
Vanmarcke could be the man to claim the cobble trophy in Roubaix’s velodrome. Besides second in 2013, he placed fourth in 2014. In similarly hard races, he counts a third place in Ronde van Vlaanderen 2014 and a victory in the 2012 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
“I’m ready, and if I wasn’t, it wouldn’t matter because it’s impossible to change gears at this point in the classics season,” he added.
“I don’t want it to happen again for sure, Flanders was a big lesson for me.”
Sport director Nico Verhoeven and the rest of the team’s staff reviewed the race and talked about the things that did not go well on Sunday night after Flanders.
“We have closed the book, but take the points of improvement with us to next Sunday,” Verhoeven said in a team press release.
“Flanders didn’t go as hoped, but the series of races before Sunday went just fine. We see it as an incident. Our confidence is still high.”