Belgian Sep Vanmarcke will spearhead the LottoNL-Jumbo team for the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders and is ready for the challenge. The Belgian team will field a balanced squad of experience and youth in Sunday's 255km monument.
"Sep Vanmarcke is our front man and the other seven riders need to help him," sports director Nico Verhoeven explained of the selection.
"Some of them have to make sure that they make it into the final of the race so that they can support him as long as possible. From the second time up the Oude Kwaremont climb, the final starts. The race is tough before that point, as well, but no one will go full gas in that part of the race. You have to be focussed in those kilometres, though, because you can easily lose the race there."
Vanmarcke was 61st on debut in 2010 with third place in 2014 his best result yet. The 27-year-old struggled in last year's edition of the race but with 24th at Milan-San Remo, eighth at E3 Harelbeke and second at Gent-Wevelgem, he will start as a rider to watch.
"Suddenly, I'm one of the big favourites. I wasn't before this weekend, but it doesn't change anything in my mind. I've been working for these weeks and I showed last weekend that I'm good," Vanmarcke said of his status pre-race.
Of the climbs scattered across the parcours, Vanmarcke pinpointed the Oude Kwaremont as the first crucial moment of the race.
"After that point, we will ride a loop with all the famous climbs," he said, "That's very hard and you need to be in position all the time."
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