Team News: Cannondale-Drapac for Classics Start

Vanmarcke leads new Cannondale-Drapac classics group into opening weekend – Mullen and Scully to race

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Team News: Cannondale-Drapac for Classics Start

Cobbles, frites, ‘burgs. Finally, classics season draws near. Cannondale-Drapac hopes to add to the excitement and sends a new-look group to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Ryan Mullen – racing  Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne

Sep Vanmarcke, recently returned to Slipstream Sports, leads the squad, which consists of Paddy Bevin, Kristijan Koren, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck, and Dylan Van Baarle. Andreas Klier and Ken Vanmarcke will direct.

Vanmarcke, then riding for Garmin-Barracuda, won the 2012 running, outfoxing Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha in the last kilometer. Saturday marks Vanmarcke’s first foray with the classics group that is readying itself for an intense spring campaign through Paris-Roubaix.

“I’m not nervous,” Vanmarcke said. “I’m really looking forward. The last weeks in Valencia and Algarve were a nice to start racing with the guys. The next period is very important, so I’m really motivated to do well. I already have experience in these races, so no reason to get nervous anymore. Excited is a better word. I am confident that we will perform well in the next weeks.”

Vanmarcke is understated and calm looking ahead. Omloop, while it serves as the opening weekend, is still far enough removed from the Monuments that it’s not always the indicator race people may think.

“I think I’m not at my top level yet. We plan to have a big month, when the biggest classics are on the menu. But my form should be already pretty good, so I will play my role in the final,” Vanmarcke said. “Which result that can be I don’t know. My teammates are also in a good shape, so everything is possible for us.”

The cycling-mad country of Belgium is set to come alive as its stars toe the line. It’s an exciting time in the sport and fuels conversation from Flanders outward. Who will win Flanders? Who will win Roubaix?

“The fans and the media are just so happy to get their fix. To get a bit of a cobbles ration. There’s advantages to it. But it’s a long way from that core period of April, late March, when the really big races are decided. Form wise I’m not sure if it teaches you anything,” said the team’s head director, Charly Wegelius.

“On the other hand, even for experienced riders, there’s not that many days in a year where they race on cobbles like that,” Wegelius continued. “Getting a chance to do it once, there’s a real benefit in that. It’s important for us this year because it’s a new group around a new leader. We’ve got a mix of experienced riders like Sep, Sebastian, and to a degree even Dylan in terms of riding on the cobblestones, with very green, inexperienced but nevertheless strong riders like Bevin and Mullen and so on. And they’ve never really raced with a super-strong leader before. And that changes the way you ride the race. That weekend for us is an important step toward April.”
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Taylor Phinney will make his Cannondale-Drapac debut on the cobbles. He finished seventh in 2014 at Omloop.

“Preparing with a new team is great, actually. It’s refreshing. I’m excited to try out some new equipment. Different wheels, different tires, different bikes. It’s another added layer of stress, but it’s a good level of nervous that’s positive and motivating and not a distraction,” Phinney said. “In all honesty, I’m a little intimidated by our classics team. It’s a strong group of dudes. A motivated group of dudes. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but these guys are here for business.

“Opening weekend is always — keyword — stressful. It’s an anxious group of bicycle riders that amass in Belgium and attempt to get their first classic of the year under their belts,” Phinney said. “I think Sep definitely has the capability to win Het Nieuwsblad again. I think Dylan is strong right now. Sleeper strong. As for me, I’m just coming off my first race, and it’ll be a test. But the beautiful thing about the classics — if you are smart and good with timing, you can kind of just fall into the front group. And it’s a lot of suffering, but it’s just short amounts. Then some respite. You’ve got to be clever.”

DS Andreas Klier knows the cobbled classics inside and out. He’s raced them (victorious at Gent-Wevelgem in ’03 and second at Flanders in ’05) and has directed riders over this terrain since he retired in 2013. He’ll be watching to see how the team moves together.

“The parcours is difficult. You have to have close to 100 percent of your skills sharp to be able to win that bike race. I would say it’s one of the hardest one day races of the year because it’s so early in the season,” Klier said. “I hope we see a good group effort. That’s the first thing I want to see.”

Cannondale-Drapac for 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Paddy Bevin
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Taylor Phinney
Tom Scully
Sep Vanmarcke
Tom Van Asbroeck
Dylan Van Baarle

Cannondale-Drapac for Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne

Alberto Bettiol
Patrick Bevin
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Ryan Mullen
Tom Scully
Tom Van Asbroeck
Wouter Wippert



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