The LottoNL-Jumbo rider Sep Vanmarcke feels he can improve ahead of the Tour of Flanders next week after finishing eighth in Friday’s E3 Harelbeke.
For Belgian riders, the Tour of Flanders is the biggest race of the season; and after last year’s disappointing showing Vanmarcke feels he is in a good place to target a podium place.
Much of the media coverage will be on Fabian Cancellara and Etixx-Quickstep’s Tom Boonen as they go head to head one final time at Flanders and then at Paris-Roubaix a week later.
But Vanmarcke is looking to fly under the radar and claim an unlikely victory in the 100th edition of the race next Sunday.
E3 Harelbeke as good preparation for Flanders
Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky won the race on Friday after him and World Champion Peter Sagan broke away on the Taaienberg with 30km remaining, and the chasing group which involved Boonen, Cancellara and Vanmarcke couldn’t reel in the escapees.
“There were only two riders who were able to climb that fast: that was clear,” admitted Vanmarcke.
And when the race entered the final three kilometres, the chasing group didn’t cooperate with one another, and that allowed Kwiatkowski and Sagan to contest the sprint.
Speaking to Cycling News, Vanmarcke said, “If a [Zdenek] Stybar in top form can’t close it down, then I don’t need to bother trying,” and he also quipped that he ‘didn’t have enough left in the tank’ to try and pull back the two out in front.
Vanmarcke says ‘It’s still possible to improve’ ahead of Flanders.
The Tour of Flanders is an entirely different proposition than E3; but the 27-year-old knows he will have to improve: “To stand a chance next week, then I’ve got to be slightly better than today.”
The two main Classic races of the season are round the corner, but Vanmarcke feels he has plenty of time to be in good condition saying, “There are still ten days before Flanders and it’s two and a half weeks to Roubaix.”