Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda)
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Garmin-Barracuda rider in action at E3 Harelbeke
Sep Vanmarcke’s assured victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month was one of the standout performances of the early season, but the Garmin-Barracuda rider is keen to keep expectations in check as classics fever clicks into gear in Belgium. After setting Flemish hearts aflutter once again with an aggressive showing at Dwars Door Vlaanderen during the week, he lines up among the principal contenders for victory at E3 Harelbeke on Friday.
“The expectations are obviously there, but that doesn’t make me worried or give me a lot of stress,” Vanmarcke told Cyclingnews. “I hope I can play for the win again.”
Still only 23 years of age, the clinical manner of that Het Nieuwsblad triumph was a further indication of the promise he has shown over the past two seasons. Outnumbered in a five-man break by a brace of riders from Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep respectively, Vanmarcke launched a smart attack to whittle the group down to three, before calmly disposing of Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha in the sprint.
“I expected to be in front and ride for the podium and hope that I could fight for the win, but I didn’t expect to beat Boonen in the sprint,” he said. “Only a few guys can do that and I didn’t think it would be me.”
While some suggested that Boonen’s surprise defeat was explicable by the fact that his main objectives come in April, Vanmarcke quietly noted that he, too, has focused his campaign around performing at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“It was only my sixth race, and my first after Algarve, so it was also the case for me that Harelbeke, and mostly Flanders and Roubaix were the most important races I was working for. Omloop wasn’t a goal, so I guess I was in the same position as
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