Sep Vanmarcke was one of the few riders able to upstage Tom Boonen during the classics in 2012 but a bad fall on Stage 5 at Tirreno-Adriatico and fears of a torn bursal sack appeared to put his cobbled campaign in serious doubt. However, good news came just days later after an MRI scan revealed his bursa and kneecap will not require surgery as originally feared.
At this stage it looks like Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will be his next big targets, with a small hope to return to racing at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.
"I felt in Tirreno that my condition was good and even improved," he told nieuwsblad.be. "This is obviously a line through my account. The training I basically needed to be even better, now I will miss. I hope still to be in order for E3 and Gent-Wevelgem, but that is unlikely. I aim more likely for Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. As soon as I can, I will work hard."
Vanmarcke signed for the Blanco team in 2013 after a coming of age at last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where be outsprinted Boonen for the win. He had looked set for a big assault at this year's cobbled races before the incident. With surgery fears put aside the 24-year-old will have to rest for at least a week before resuming training.
"The bursa is not torn and also the kneecap isn't damaged, so surgery isn't needed," read a statement on sepvanmarcke.be.
"Because there is a lot of fluid on the kneecap, Sep has to rest a week, so no bike. With daily treatment and exercises with Lieven Maesschalck and also the needed medication and cooling with an icemachine, Sep should be able to start in the Tour of Flanders.
"E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem are more in danger, the doctors give hem 50% chance for participation."
Vanmarcke has enjoyed a reasonable start to the year despite a lack of results. February's Challenge Mallorca produced little for him personally but he did complete the Volta ao Algarve and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before heading to Italy for Tirreno-Adriatico.
With less than two weeks before the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem weekend it looks unlikely that Varmarcke would feature in the finale if he indeed starts however, he will undoubtedly push to be in condition for Tour of Flanders on the last day of March and Paris-Roubaix the weekend following De Ronde.