When Sep Vanmarcke announced last week that he was leaving Garmin-Sharp at the end of the season speculation began to mount as to where the 24-year-old Classics rider would move to. The final announcement has yet to be made, but Vanmarcke’s agent has confirmed that the rider will not be returning to Belgium, subsequently ruling out a move to either Lotto-Belisol or Omega Pharma - Quickstep. Both Belgian teams were on the trail once Vanmarcke won Omloop Het Nieuwblad and it was confirmed that his existing contract expired at the end of the season.
“I can’t say where he’s going yet because that’s up to his team to release it at the right time,” Vanmarcke’s Dutch agent Martijn Berkout told Cyclingnews.
Berkhout works for Sports Entertainment Group and represents a string of professionals, including Daniel Martin. The Irish climber confirmed last week that he was staying with Garmin for the foreseeable future, signing a contract extension until the end of 2014. The reason Martin stayed and Vanmarcke left is down to structure, according to Berkhout, who ruled out that Vanmarcke was changing teams simply for a bigger pay packet.
“The structure provided for Dan is an idea one for him and his career. Dan could have signed anywhere he wanted but he wanted to stay with Garmin, but for Sep it was a bit different. He also could have stayed at Garmin but then he’s looking for a structure that’s a little bit closer to home and where he comes from. He’s 24 and he feels at this moment that he must carry Garmin in the Classics, while it’s still important to develop. He could develop at Garmin, Jonathan Vaughters always gave him a lot of trust and support, but there’s more to the Garmin team than just Vaughters. He can’t be at every race, all of the time.”
Vanmarcke joined Garmin after a year at Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator. With Lotto crying out for a Classics rider to replace Phillipe Gilbert’s move to BMC, and QuickStep searching for an alternative and plan in the post-Boonen future, a move back to Belgian was an obvious prediction. However such a move will not take place.
“He’s not returning to a Belgian team. It was reported that QuickStep expressed interest in Sep. I also spoke to Lefevere. He had a good story and it was an option but it wasn’t in Sep’s best interests to go there. At least Lefevere had a good plan though. Lotto, they had no plan. There’s no plan in that team for a guy like him,” said Berkhout.