In 2011 Garmin waited until the final cobbled race of the season before finally delivering success with Johan Vansummeren’s memorable ride in Paris-Roubaix.
Almost twelve months on and the team have made a 180 degree turn, winning in the opening weekend of the Belgian road calendar, courtesy of Sep Vanmarcke’s performance in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
However, it could have been different had Vanmarcke not stood up during a team meeting the night before Saturday's race and ask the team to work for him.
Team boss Jonathan Vaughters, who followed the race back home in the United Stated confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team had been persuaded to ride for the Belgian only after he’d stepped up and asked for his own chance.
“The night before the race Sep’s manager called me up and said the team wanted to only work for Heinrich [Haussler] and that Sep was a bit upset. I asked if Sep could win the race and if he could, then he needed to stand up in front of everybody and say he could win. If he does that and has the balls to do it then the team will be behind him for sure,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
“It’s the first classic and nobody knows for sure where their form is and it’s all a little unpredictable but if he has the confidence then we have to believe in him. I think it was a strong and confident thing for a rider to do. He did it and made good on his promise.”
In the sprint Vanmarcke played the perfect card, waiting for Boonen to jump, and sweeping across the line as the QuickStep rider faded.
“Sep was just a little bit stronger. It’s not that he’s a better sprinter than Boonen by any chance but if you look at how he rode you could see he was the strongest rider in the race and in the end he had a little bit more in the tank than Boonen did,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
Vanmarcke thrust himself into the limelight after finishing second at Gent-Wevelgem in 2010. A move from Topsport Vlaanderen to Garmin quickly followed and last year he was instrumental in the team’s susses in Roubaix.
Vaughters bought the rider out of his previous contract with Topsport and believes the rider has the potential to be one of the biggest Classics stars in the world. However, he made it clear that the Belgian season had only just begun and that the full assessment of any rider and team should only be made after Roubaix concludes in April.
“In Boulder in November I said to him if you do everything right, train professionally and take care of yourself and don’t let the Belgian media drive you crazy, if you can do all that you can become one of the top classic riders in the world. He’s taken the first step. I’ve always had a huge amount of faith in Sep.”