Before the 2015 edition of the Tour of Flanders one of the big favourites was Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). After promising rides during the previous years, strong performances in the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem and in the absence of the usual suspects, Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara, he hoped to clinch the victory in Oudenaarde.
However the 26-year-old Belgian rider failed to live up to the high expectations, missing the first real selection on the Taaienberg and failing to bridge back up later on. Vanmarcke finished on a distant 53th place, more than three minutes behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
On the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont the LottoNL-Jumbo team leader was riding quite far back in the field. From that moment on it seemed unlikely he would be able to move up as the climbs were quickly following up on each other. The Paterberg, Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg awaited and on that last climb the selection was made. A select group of 26 riders rode away and Vanmarcke missed the cut.
“I had a bad moment on the Taaienberg. I didn’t expect that. There was a small gap in the peloton. Maarten Wynants did all he could to keep the gap small,” Vanmarcke said, when he walked off the team bus long after the race.
While Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was already attacking the front group Vanmarcke was desperately trying to bridge back up. Due to the attacks in the front group the pace never dropped. Less than 10 kilometres after the Taaienberg the Kruisberg awaited the riders. On that climb Vanmarcke tried to jump across solo. His efforts were in vain since Niki Terpstra and Kristoff rode away in the lead group just after reaching the top of the Kruisberg. Since two top favourites were riding away there was little hesitation in the large group.
“I managed to bounce back reasonably well on the Kruisberg but I failed to close the gap down. If only they would’ve hesitated briefly in front I might have bridged up but I failed. I thought about winning here and then you fail in such a way. It’s a big disappointment.”
This way, the LottoNL-Jumbo team still remains without a win this season. It’ll be hard for the spring classics team to bounce back from this blow. On Wednesday they tackle the Scheldeprijs and next week there’s Paris-Roubaix. Shortly after a disappointing Ronde van Vlaanderen it was clearly hard for Vanmarcke to imagine that he could perform in the French classic. “Next week? We’ll try.”
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