Vanmarcke to lead Belkin at Tour of Flanders

Boom recovering from elbow injury, will target Paris-Roubaix

Belkin's Sep Vanmarcke has been showing increasing form in the Classics season's crescendo to the Tour of Flanders, and will be the team's protected rider for Sunday's event.

After finishing fourth in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and on the podium in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Vanmarcke overcame a number of misfortunes and mechanicals in the E3 Harelbeke to win the sprint behind the four-man breakaway. The young Belgian even displayed some bunch sprint prowess to take fourth in Gent-Wevelgem.

With these results, and fellow classics specialist Lars Boom's continuing recovery from an elbow injury sustained in Paris-Nice, it is no surprise that Vanmarcke will be Belkin's undisputed team leader for De Ronde.

"There can only be one winner, but of course I hope to be the one," Vanmarcke said. "We'll go for it as a team. The team has supported me very well the last few weeks and that is very important as otherwise you'll lose a lot of energy during a race."

Although Vanmarcke has had better single race results, finishing second in Gent-Wevelgem in 2010 and in Paris-Roubaix last season, this spring has been his most consistent to date and the results bring confidence.

"Every year, I got better and at this moment I feel stronger than ever," he said. "My good shape gives me a lot of confidence, even though I know that riders will look at me. That causes some pressure, but I thinks that's better than when it's the other way around. I just try to not get distracted by it."

Lars Boom has been given the role of support rider in the Tour of Flanders as he tries to heal his injuries, but he hopes to be back to full strength by Paris-Roubaix.

"I'm going in the right direction," he explained. "During Gent-Wevelgem I occasionally felt some pain, but during the race, it got better. Hopefully I can stay with Sep for a long time in Flanders and maybe next week in Paris-Roubaix, I can do something myself again."

Belkin for Tour of Flanders: Lars Boom, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.

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