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Vanmarcke in search of luck as he aims for classics win

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Jan. 26, 2016
  • Updated Mar. 31, 2016 at 12:43 PM EDT
Sep Vanmarcke said he'd like to win a classic this season. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN (VN) — Sep Vanmarcke is changing his schedule, hoping that everything will go his way in 2016 — which includes winning a classic.

LottoNL – Jumbo’s Belgian leader placed second in both Gent-Wevelgem (2010) and Paris-Roubaix (2013), and in 2012 he won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With some tweaks to his schedule this season, like skipping Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne at the end of February, as well as some luck, 2016 could be a winner for the 27-year-old.

“Luck? I hope it’ll be better for me in 2016,” Vanmarcke told VeloNews. “I was terrible last year, the luck was really against me.

“I was desperate to win a big classic. I won’t speak about which ones I’m after now, but I want to win.”

The spring campaign last year was mostly cloudy for Vanmarcke, with his shoe cleat breaking in E3 Harelbeke and punctures at key moments in both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Roubaix. In the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) the week before Roubaix, the team said he was “just off.”

“But remember, you are talking about a Omloop winner and one who placed second behind Fabian Cancellara in Paris-Roubaix,” team manager Richard Plugge said. “Last year, he was unlucky, but in 2014, he placed [in the] top 5 in all the spring classics.”

Vanmarcke realizes he is close to something big. The little tweaks, along with surgery he had on his wrist in November to alleviate chronic swelling, could turn his career around.

“I’m skipping Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne because the weeks before I’d end up training too much because they are big races. I’d come out of the races in great condition, but still with six weeks to go until Paris-Roubaix,” added Vanmarcke. “I just want to try and see if it works out. I don’t need much racing to be good. If I do a stage race, I’m ready.”

He will begin racing at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal on February 17 and will continue with Paris-Nice in March. Vanmarcke wants to compete for victory from Milano-Sanremo to the Amstel Gold Race, which spans from mid-march to mid-April.

If the tweaks work, he would help revive LottoNL’s dismal 2015 season that netted only six victories — the lowest total of all the WorldTour teams. The Dutch squad only won twice at the WorldTour level, a stage in the Vuelta a España and one in the Eneco Tour.

“Six wins was really bad and we need a better level this year,” Vanmarcke said. “Pressure? I don’t feel the pressure to keep the team off the bottom of the WorldTour. I think that the wins will come, we just have to put more effort behind our sprinters Dylan Groenewegen and Moreno Hofland, and have some luck.”

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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