It was as exciting as we all expected. No rain, but still every bit of the action you’d want from from the opening spring classic. After leading the race with Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan for the final 35 kilometers, and with a chase group only 30 seconds behind, Sep Vanmarcke delivered the team its first WorldTour podium of the season by sprinting to third. Here’s what the Belgian had to say following the northern opener:
“I always feel good on the cobbles and I knew it was there that I had to keep the tempo up, so the chase group wouldn’t get back to us. When we first got together with the three of us, I was at my max. I had to laugh when Sagan asked us to take over; he was riding so easily and I was really struggling.
“But I got better as the race progressed. I felt good and put everything on the sprint. When Sagan swayed to the left at 300 meters to go, that messed up my sprint. I did get next to Van Avermaet, but I was already done by then.
“Once the disappointment decreases, I’ll know that this race went well, that my legs are good and I can work toward the next races. It’s still some time before the next cobble classics. First up there’s Strade Bianche next weekend and Tirreno-Adriatico afterwards, so I still have some races to prepare.
“We have a good team. The big crash on the Donderij hindered some of my teammates, so I had to do the final bit by myself. But a lot of riders didn’t have any teammates left from quite early in the race. So it was the same situation for all of us.”
—Sep Vanmarcke after his third place finish in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
“Unfortunately we lost Dylan van Baarle after one of the crashes. Other than that, everyone performed in his possible range. We went to all this points and we somehow placed Sep where we wanted to place him, even though a few people got stopped behind that big crash too. From there on, Sep got back in his rhythm and he rode pretty hard and good. It was of course difficult for him to beat the Olympic champion and world champion that were in his group.
“But I actually believed in it and so did Sep. And therefore he was a little disappointed afterwards — and still is. But that’s very good. Because if he would say ‘ah it’s OK, I got third behind the Olympic and world champion’, I wouldn’t see the progress toward the upcoming races. So therefore I’m happy with the performance and I’m happy that he is critical with what he did in the final.”
—Andreas Klier, director sportif.
“They did a good job today as a team. I think Sep was super strong on the cobble stones. We just need to work with him a little bit between now and the big classics on having a little bit colder blood in the final.”
—Jonathan Vaughters, team manager