Sep Vanmarcke again determined the outcome of a big cycling race today, this time, over Siena’s gravel roads instead of Belgium’s mud. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider placed fourth place in the Strade Bianche one-day race behind winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep).
Vanmarcke, the big pacemaker in last week’s Belgian opening weekend, attacked several times on Saturday. His efforts saw several strong men lose touch and helped him to get into a late four-man breakaway with Stybar, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
With ten kilometres to race to Siena’s piazza, however, Vanmarcke’s tank ran empty. He lost touch, but kept the leaders in sight and fought to hold on to his fourth place.
“I came close, a lot closer than I had thought I would,” Vanmarcke said. “It went better than expected. It is unfortunate that I ended up just outside the podium, but I’m pleased to see that my climbing has improved a lot compared to last year. I feel ready for the spring classics.”
Sports Director Erik Dekker enjoyed the race from his team car. “I saw some great action. Sep did not expect this, but I knew he was up for this,” Dekker said.
“He did really, really well, especially considering his mechanical halfway in the race, at a very inconvenient moment. Just like last week, he found his way back to the front within no-time, but you saw he missed that little bit of extra energy in the final. Of course, there is some disappointment after the race because of that mechanical, but Sep did really great.”