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Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) leads Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky)
Dutchman approaches weekend without stress
Sebastian Langeveld left Orica-Greenedge for Garmin-Sharp this season to focus more on the Classics. "After the Spring campaign in 2013 we decided to part ways because Greenedge would focus less on the Classics. Garmin-Sharp is a team with huge quality when it comes to these races. We hope to be strong as a team," Langeveld told Wielerflits.
Langeveld won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2011 after beating Juan Antonio Flecha in a two-up sprint, although this year he feels less pressure for the traditional opening race of the Belgian season.
"I want to peak a bit later this year. That's the difference with 2011 when the Omloop was my primary goal," Langeveld said. "In my first race this season, in Dubai, I felt that my form is good but am not at 100 per cent yet. I want to use Paris-Nice to get to that point. I hope to be good in the other Classics. Therefore I'm going to the Omloop relatively stress-free."
It doesn't mean that Langeveld won't try for a good result if the opportunity arises. "I hope to be there in the final of the race. When there is a chance to win, I won't let it slip. I'll give it 200 per cent."
For Langeveld, Tom Boonen is the man to beat. "He's very motivated to go for a result after last year's crash [in the Tour of Flanders]. I hope to be among a group that sits just below Boonen in terms of favourites with riders like [Greg] Van Avermaet, [Jürgen] Roelandts and [Luca] Paolini. If I succeed in that, everything is possible."
Garmin-Sharp has a strong line-up for the Classics season with former Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens and Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren. The quality in the team is not a disadvantage, according to the 29-year old Dutch rider.
"We don't have one captain for a specific race. We'll try to ride strong collectively and end up with as many men as possible in the final to go for victory. The more aces we have to play in the final, the bigger the chances to win are."
Langeveld had a crash with a spectator in the Tour of Flanders in 2012 which resulted in broken collarbone. It meant an end to his ambitions in 2012. In 2013 he returned to the Spring Classics with a consistent string of results, including fifth place at E3 Harelbeke, seventh in Paris-Roubaix and tenth in the Tour of Flanders.
"There are only five or six chances for a victory," Langeveld told Algemeen Dagblad. "The pro peloton consists of 200 riders with exceptional results in the youth ranks. Winning is not so evident as it seems. It gets more difficult every year because entire teams now have these races as targets while they prepare during the winter. And then you have guys like Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen and Peter Sagan."