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Belgian classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke has signed with Cannondale – Drapac, the team announced on Friday.
Vanmarcke, 28, finished inside the top four at Paris-Roubaix in three out of the last four editions. He was second to Fabian Cancellara at Roubaix in 2013, losing a tight sprint on the velodrome. He’s found success at the Tour of Flanders as well, placing third in 2016 and 2014. The string of consistent results has marked him as one of the sport’s top classics riders, a man many point to as a future Roubaix or Flanders champion.
The Belgian rode for Jonathan Vaughters’s Slipstream teams in 2011 (Garmin – Cervelo) and 2012 (Garmin – Sharp and then Garmin – Barracuda) before signing with Blanco, which later turned into Belkin Pro Cycling and then LottoNL – Jumbo. He won his first major race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, while racing for Garmin – Barracuda in 2012.
Vanmarcke bolsters a Cannondale classics squad that has been led by rising star Dylan van Baarle, 24, who was sixth at this year’s Tour of Flanders.
“Knowing my contract was expiring, I was not surprised that Jonathan Vaughters and Cannondale-Drapac showed interest in me,” Vanmarcke said. “But what surprised me was their idea for the future.
“Cannondale-Drapac gives me the opportunity to help create a very strong classics team for the next two years and to implement my own ideas. I’m 28 years old, my strongest years are ahead of me and I want all the details to be in place in order to reach my goals. The potential in this team is huge, the shareholders and sponsors have the same goals as I have, there is already a good and experienced classics group, including riders as Sebastian Langeveld and youngster Dylan van Baarle.”
Vanmarcke was also drawn by the presence of Andreas Klier, a former teammate, on staff, as well as the opportunity to bring his brother Ken Vanmarcke on board as part of the coaching staff.
“Sep is very hungry to get his Tour of Flanders victory,” Klier said. “And you can see that from afar, with all the races he is doing as a build up towards that race. He lives that whole Belgian three-week classic campaign through the entire year.”
Vanmarcke signed a two-year deal, keeping him with Cannondale through the 2018 season.
Vaughters Tweeted a somewhat cryptic message on Thursday, saying that his team had signed a rider capable of “winning Roubaix.” That rider, we now know, is Vanmarcke.