The Blanco leader has been chasing form and fitness since crashing out of Tirreno Adriatico last month. The Belgian escaped surgery on a knee injury but time off the bike during his recovery meant that he has been playing catch up in recent weeks.
He told Cylingnews last week that the swelling in one of his knees was so bad that he had to cut a hole in his leg warmers in order to ride but he made it through a set of warm-up races to eventually finished the Ronde in 29th place, 2:49 down on winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard).
"I'm happy with my level now though and I'll get better by next week," Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews at the finish line in Oudenaarde.
Vanmarcke's race was not without incident. He crashed on the lower slopes of the Valkenberg and his race briefly looked over but a frantic chase saw him back with the peloton.
"In the beginning everything was going well and then on the Valkenberg I was taking off a layer of clothing and I crashed. I couldn't move it and I felt it swelling. Then after a couple of minutes I was able to get back on the bike and I tried to make the best of it."
After remounting and chasing back to the bunch, Vanmarcke linked up with his Blanco teammates with Lars Boom also keen to be factor in the race finale.
"I just made a little mistake before the last time up the Kwaremont. I sprinted to the front and I was on my maximum level when I started the climb. Then Cancellara went full gas and for 200 meters I was really weak. I couldn't follow."
With 260 kilometres in his legs and no setback to his recovering knee, Vanmarcke can now look ahead to Paris-Roubaix, although he admitted that with Cancellara in such dominant form he may well racing for the a place on the second two podium spots.
"Ever since my crash in Tirreno we were already thinking that Paris-Roubaix would be my only realistic goal for me. Here I was a lot better but still a bit too weak to go with the best. I hope that next week will be a lot better.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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