Half a week after his off-day at the Tour of Flanders it was time for Sep Vanmarcke to switch the restart button and build back up towards Paris-Roubaix. In the Ronde he missed the cut on the Taaienberg and then failed to bridge up on the Kruisberg, when Niki Tersptra and Alexander Kristoff attacked.
At the start of the Scheldeprijs in Antwerp the LottoNL-Jumbo rider was trying to turn his failure into something positive. No more holding back. Expect an attacking Vanmarcke on the cobbles between Compiègne and Roubaix.
“I don’t want it to happen again. It was a big lesson I learned. It was really hard to see this happening. You’re hoping for the maximum and then you’re in a losing position,” Vanmarcke said while heading to the start line in Antwerp. “I hope to do a really good Paris-Roubaix, also because I did really bad last week.”
“I had a bad moment. I was a little bit too far back in the peloton and then it split up. I waited a little bit too long to try and bridge the gap. Then I couldn’t get to the front anymore and then it was over,” Vanmarcke said.
Next Sunday provides one more chance for Vanmarcke. A last chance to win a big prize. Probably the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix suit him even more than those in the Ronde. In the last two years he has finished in the top-five on the vélodrome in Roubaix.
“I’m looking forward to next Sunday. My legs are fully recovered. Today [Scheldeprijs] is just a preparation for Sunday. They are two races I’m really good at. I had the same goals and they stay the same goals,” Vanmarcke said. His performance in the Ronde didn’t keep him from aiming high in Roubaix. To do so he hasn’t changed much to his preparation.
“I think that’s impossible if you do it the right way,” he smiled. In that way Vanmarcke also seems to blame tactics more than physical reasons for his off-day.
His personal coach Luc Wante stated in several Flemish newspapers that their tactical plan to make Vanmarcke ride less aggressively didn’t work out. “It doesn’t work for Sep, being told to hold back. It’s not his style. Attacking, attacking, attacking, that’s his style. Nobody can ride the cobbles like Vanmarcke. If you want to win you have to drop the others on the cobbles,” Wante said.
On Wednesday the build-up towards Paris-Roubaix went according to plan, with some big pulls from Vanmarcke who tried to set-up his teammates for the bunch sprint. Sadly the team’s sprinters were unable to reach out for the victory in the Churchillaan, Schoten’s finishing straight. Tom Van Asbroeck was one of the biggest victims in the massive crash that occurred in the final kilometre. Vanmarcke also set foot on the ground but wasn’t injured.