After two seasons at Orica GreenEDGE in which he failed to win an individual race Sebastian Langeveld is looking forward to kick starting his career with Garmin-Sharp in 2014. The former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner has targeted the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix as his major objectives for the coming season but emphasised that strength in numbers could be Garmin’s best bet for success as they take on Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Peter Sagan.
Langeveld signed for Rabobank in 2007 and quickly forged a career as a one-day specialist. He finished second in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in just his second season with the team but his breakthrough came after defeating Juan Antonio Flecha to win a rain-soaked edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2011.
He came away with a 5th place finish in Flanders that same year before signing with GreenEdge on a two year deal.
“In general it was a really good time,” he said of his time with the Australian squad.
“Before that I was at Rabobank for five years and that was a really long time. Shayne Bannan came along with a contract offer and I was really happy with Orica, and I enjoyed taking my chance on a team outside of Holland.”
Earmarked as the team’s main threat for the Classics, Langeveld had a campaign to forget in 2012, crashing out of the Tour of Flanders in horrendous fashion. This year he bounced back with top ten placings in E3 Harelbeke, Flanders and Roubaix. Although he failed to win an individual race during his time with Orica, he showed a level of progress that he believes he can build on.
“I did want to win a couple of races, of course, but in 2012 when I crashed in Flanders I was ready for a top result in that race and in Roubaix. This year I was really steady with my results in the Classics and my level, in the races where I needed to perform, was good. I was a little bit disappointed at the same time because I’m a bike rider and you want to win but that’s racing,” he told Cyclingnews.
“When I made my choice to move to GreenEdge I had to look at their strength for the Classics. You had riders like Cooke and O’Grady, and on paper it looked like a stable team so that if it came down to 40 or 50 riders we’d have maybe four or five guys left. In 2012 it’s hard to analyze because I crashed out but in 2013, Cooke, he helped me in Flanders but in the rest of the races, if there were 40 guys left I would be there by myself. So when I talked to Shayne back in May about whether I would stay or go, we talked about the Classics. At that point they didn’t have anything confirmed.”
Interest from Sky and Cannondale
During the intervening months between the Classics and the end of the season, Langeveld was linked with a number of teams but it appeared that Sky were in the driving seat.
“I had a couple of chats with Brailsford. At Amstel Gold I went to Maastricht and had a chat with him in person. I thought after that chat he’d make me an offer but unfortunately the market was a little crazy this year and no offer came. So when Jonathan Vaughters came to me and said he wanted to talk about the next two years he made things happen pretty quickly.”
It turns out that Sky and Garmin weren’t the only interested parties.
“There were a couple of other teams I was talking with, a lot of managers expressed interest but they never came back with contracts. There were actually a few talks with Cannondale, an Italian team, but in the end I chose Garmin and by August I had my deal," he told Cyclingnews.
“For sure, Sagan would have been the big guy but I could have fitted in there too. If you’re going into the finale of a race with two guys, you’re in a better position than just having Sagan on his own.”
Vaughters was quickest off the draw and by August had tied Langeveld to a two-year deal. The American squad have gone through a transformation in recent months ahead of the 2014 season with a number of riders moving on or retiring. Nick Nuyens, who has failed to replicate anything like the form that saw him win Flanders in 2011 and Johan Vansummeren have remained, with the team expected to have a three-ponged attack in the Classics.
“We have a good team. We have Nuyens who has won a lot of races. We have Vansummeren who has a lot of experience and has won Roubaix and then you have me. Then you add in David Millar and Jack Bauer who will probably also do those races. Me, Vansummeren and Nuyens will start off in Dubai and from there we’ll see how our condition is, but we should look to work together when it comes to the Classics. If all three of us can make it to the finales of the big races and go from there, that’s surely a good thing.”
At 28 Langeveld is entering what he believes could be the prime of his career.
“I’m 28 now but I’ve been a pro for a number of years now. If you’re not Sagan, Cancellara or Boonen you need to make smaller steps, just one or two percent and then one year you’ll be there in the finale. I have the potential to win one of those races and someone like Cancellara, he’s not going to win every year. We’ll see and like I said I’ll do everything I can.
"Both Flanders and Roubaix are the dream races to win. If I can get to the end of my career and win one of those races, that’s the dream and I’ll do everything I can for it. Each year I’m trying to make progress, taking one step at a time."