This Saturday sees the traditional curtain raiser of the Belgian road cycling season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the excitement in Flanders is building nicely. Defending champion Sebastian Langeveld will be on the start line in the colours of his new team, GreenEdge, though after an incident packed couple of weeks on the Arabian peninsula at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman he is playing down his chances of retaining his title in the famous one-day race.
The 27-year-old Dutchman suffered crashes in both Qatar and Oman and admits that his first few weeks with GreenEdge, who he joined in the off-season after five years with Rabobank, haven't gone as smoothly as he hoped. But with the Classics season just around the corner he is hoping for an upturn in fortunes. Whether that comes immediately this weekend, however, remains to be seen.
"I have some days racing under my belt, but they did not go smoothly," he told nieuwsblad.be. "I had a fall in the penultimate stage of the Tour of Qatar, which gave me some back pain. I thought I'd be ok as there was three days until the Tour of Oman. Then I got stomach flu. And in Oman, I suffered another crash. Without these setbacks I was convinced that I would be involved in the finale on Saturday [at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad]. I may still be, but there is a question mark."
Langeveld remains convinced that his move to GreenEdge will bring him even greater opportunities to shine this season, particularly in the Classics.
"They [GreenEdge] know who I am and what I can do," he said. "Otherwise they would never have pursued me. I have some very good years behind me with Rabobank, but now at GreenEdge I'll be very protected in all the Spring Classics. After last year I know that I can do very well."