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Sep Vanmarcke

vanmarcke garmin

Sep Vanmarcke’s win in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race last Saturday was a breakthrough for the Belgian rider but in hindsight only a matter of time. Here is a quick look at his past performances in order to help us assess where he goes next.

He started in a club famed for its champion riders and now he could join them as a top Flandrien. There’s also a look at his spectacular crash in the Vuelta last year.

Today he lives in Waregem, just a couple of kilometres from the route of Saturday’s Omloop. He is 1.90 metres (6″3′) tall and weighs in at 76kg for a cyclist.

He was born in Kortrijk in 1988 and his first club was in Deerlijk, nearby. He grew up in a cycling family, his dad raced and brother Ken Vanmarcke is six years senior and first made the pro ranks although at a more modest level with a one year contract in 2009 for Continental team Jong Vlaanderen-Bauknecht.

Schotte, Demeyer, Demol… Vanmarcke
Unlike some riders Vanmarcke didn’t destroy junior cycling from the start. His first year with the KSV Deerlijk-Gaverzicht aged 14 didn’t see a single win. The club has an impressive history, it was formed in 1941 and its first club champion was Alberic “Briek” Schotte, a future World Champion and legend of Flemish cycling. The same club helped Marc Demeyer, Patrick Lefevere, Dirk Demol, Johan Bruyneel and Eric Van Lancker on their way too. Note Van Lancker is today Vanmarcke’s team manager at Garmin-Barracuda and was driving the team car on Saturday.

Back to Sep and if he didn’t win from the start, things picked up in time with three wins the next year and then it was onwards and upwards. In his final year as a junior he took sixth place in the Omloop Het Volk, the old name for the Het Nieuwsblad race.

Sep Vanmarcke

Snapped by Belgian blogger Roland Desmet in 2009

No wins in his first year as a senior but racing against riders four years older still makes a big difference and Vanmarcke still managed third place in the U-23 Ronde van Vlaanderen. Belgium offers significant resources to promising juniors with dedicated teams and feeder squads designed to channel talent to the main pro teams; in addition significant government funding exists to help oil the wheels here too. He joined the Davitamon-Lotto-Jong Vlaanderen team which later became known as Topsport Vlaanderen, a youth team backed by the Flemish authorities and he was with others like Thomas de Gendt, now with Vacansoleil.

Riding the U-23 category he was a very solid rider… but not stunning. Some riders can win everything in sight only to fade when the sign a pro contract, Vanmarcke instead kept a steady progress with a string of places in the country’s top amateur races. Take his last season as an amateur,  in 2009 he was second in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, fifth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and more, then he turned pro mid-year and took two top-10 places in stages of the Tour de l’Avenir.

Pro time

Topsport-Vlaanderen is a modest team but Vanmarcke made the most of the team’s invitations. He took second in Gent-Wevelgem and won the mountains jersey in the Four Days of Dunkirk and took other top-10 places and appeared on my radar screen, a neo-pro taking second in Gent Wevelgem was big and more so since he could have won the race too but didn’t time his sprint right and – see the video above, he was getting cramp in the finish. He made the break with Eisel, Hincapie and Gilbert.

He impressed enough to find Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters buying him out of his contract. Note there’s nothing sneaky here, top teams can recruit riders from Continental squads and Topsport-Vlaanderen exists in part to send riders on to better things. In 2011 he was 20th in Paris-Roubaix, a vital tactical card in the Garmin team’s win with Van Summeren that day. Injury took its toll with an Achilles problem at the start of the season, plus a crash landing on a knee in May took out much of his summer.

Flying in the Vuelta
Later he rode his first grand tour, the Vuelta. Scan the results and finished no better than 75th in any stage until the penultimate day when he took a fourth place in a bunch sprint. But he made a name for himself in the race for the wrong reasons after he and Karsten Kroon crashed on a descent, hitting the railings and flying into a ravine… and survived to tell cyclingnews.com:

“I kept floating through the air.  That’s it, I thought.  The buck stops here.  It’s over for me. I crashed twice on the ground, with several trees involved, and suddenly I was on the ground. Just before the river. I scrambled right up and heard nothing and nobody. I tried to climb the hill, but it was too steep. They pulled me up with branches… …It was a crucifixion. Everything hurt. I was in shock. Two hours on a stretch on my bike crying.”

There’s blurry gallery of the recovery efforts over at Spanish sports website cadenaser.com.

“Dreaming about the classics!”
His personal life… seems pretty personal. He has a girlfriend but there’s not much more. A peak at his twitter feed reveals an addition to TV series Dexter and he’s trying to get his driver’s licence but most messages are about racing and training. Indeed he seems totally focussed on the job. In an interview with Het Nieuwsblad at the end of last year he “admitted” plans to take a day off the bike to celebrate the New Year with friends.

Where does he go next?
Paris. This Saturday sees the start of the Paris-Nice race. You might have him pegged as a one-day specialist and you’d be right. But stage racing is often essential for extra strength and fitness and besides, he might fancy one or two of the finishes. If not he can repay the support of his team mates.

If he can avoid injury he’ll be certain to ride Roubaix and Flanders and could be a contender, make no mistake about his ride on Saturday where he made the selection, attacked with 20km to go and then sprinted to win with a big margin. Yes Boonen probably used up too much energy but that only underlines that Vanmarcke did not. But the pressure falls on him now, the Belgian media will expect more results and its one thing to deliver a result after 200km but another after 250km. Longer term he is supposed to ride either the Tour de France or the Vuelta again but I suspect his thoughts right now don’t go much further than the velodrome in Roubaix.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nikolai Monday, 27 February 2012, 12:53 pm

    Great material this guy. Thanks for the story.

  • lele Monday, 27 February 2012, 3:14 pm

    “In 2011 he was 20th in Paris-Roubaix”

  • strained eyes Monday, 27 February 2012, 3:43 pm

    “No wins in his first year as a senior but racing against riders four years old still makes a big difference and Vanmarcke still managed third place in the U-23 Ronde van Vlaanderen.”

    He was racing against four-year olds? That does not sound like very stiff competition!

    “He took second in Gent-Wevelgem and won the mountains jersey in the Four Days of Dunkirk and took other top-10 places and appeared on my radar screen, a neo-pro taking second in Gent Wevelgem was big and more so since he could have won the race too but didn’t time his sprint right and – see the video above, he was getting cramp in the finish.”

    Quite the run-on sentence, among other errors. Who wrote this article? So many errors throughout the article, that it is very difficult to read. Is English their first language? At the least, a second pair of eyes should check the copy before publication.

  • JimW Monday, 27 February 2012, 4:00 pm

    What’s with all the nitpicking today?
    As one of the few blogs delivering content not supplied by the industry a little slack is in order don’t you think. Otherwise it’s just velonews and that grammatical mess of advertising disguised as cycling journalism.
    Your efforts are always appreciated INRNG regardless of sentence structure.

  • Winton Monday, 27 February 2012, 4:15 pm

    Agree with Jim. This is top quality blogging about cycling – we come here for info, not perfect syntax.

    As my Dad always used to say “If you have nothing productive to say, say nothing.”

  • strained eyes Monday, 27 February 2012, 5:42 pm

    The problems go beyond syntax. The article contains multiple factual errors. Two of those errors were pointed out above. First, Van Summeren won Paris-Roubaix in 2011, not 2010 as implicated in the sentence, “In 2010 he was 20th in Paris-Roubaix, a vital tactical card in the Garmin team’s win with Van Summeren that day.” Second, I doubt he was racing against riders four years old, but that is what is implied by the sentence “No wins in his first year as a senior but racing against riders four years old still makes a big difference …”

    As Jim W says, this is journalism. Simply put, the article is very poorly written. I don’t want to slam the guy, but most professional journalists would very likely agree with that assessment. And the writing makes it difficult to comprehend what the author is trying to convey. By taking ads, such as the ad by Seven in the right hand margin, the author has put himself out as a paid professional journalist. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect some minimal degree of professional writing and editing. Otherwise, he could resort to a bulleted list to present the facts, and that might be more effective. I don’t think expectations should be lowered so much merely because the article appears on the internet or the author holds himself out as a “blogger.”

  • CAT4Fodder Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:05 pm

    Strained Eyes:

    Free blog, full of probably the best analysis day-to-day in the English speaking world. Get a life…please.

  • seriously? Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:14 pm

    Here’s the problem, I think: in the last comment strained eyes says, “the writing makes it difficult to comprehend what the author is trying to convey.” While there are some errors in the articles here, I have never found them to impede my ability to ‘comprehend’ what was written. Perhaps either (1) strained eyes is a troll, exaggerating for effect or (2) he (or she?) has a hard time with reading comprehension?

    One of this blog’s many excellent qualities is the author’s own engagement with readers. If it helps, strained eyes, think of it not as traditional journalism (in which communication flows primarily in one direction) but rather as a conversation. I’ve never yet seen an entry in which an error caught by a reader hasn’t elicited a response from the author, offering thanks for the correction and often more information, sometimes even another entire post. And if you are having problems with comprehension, then I’m sure that leaving a question in the comments will get you many helpful responses.

  • strained eyes Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:17 pm


    The article states that Sep Vanmarcke “is 1.90 metres (6″3′) tall …” Really? The guy is 6 inches and 3 feet tall!? That is a pretty bad error, be it factual or due to poor editing. And if it was the only error that would be one thing, but the article is riddled with errors.

  • strained eyes Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:23 pm


    Please tell me what he meant by: “No wins in his first year as a senior but racing against riders four years old still makes a big difference …” And if you have to think about it very long then there is a problem with the writer, not the person reading it. I could pull other lines that are equally ambiguous.

  • CAT4Fodder Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:38 pm

    Strained Eyes,
    in keeping with the goal of this blog (i.e. – comments remain above the fray), you made your point. All I am stating is that this is not something this author does full time….this is a side project where you get “FREE” analysis of which, you will not get anywhere else (save perhaps for Red Kite Prayer), and even then, not nearly as much devotion to Pro cycling analysis.

    If you thought for a second the author meant that Sep was 6 inches tall, then my god, are you some sort of Vulcan, unable to take anything but the most literal interpretation and not be able to utilize comment sense on when to interpolate and adjust what was literally conveyed into what was intended to be conveyed?

    I am guessing Irony and Sarcasm are not your strong point.

  • The Inner Ring Monday, 27 February 2012, 6:56 pm

    Thanks for the corrections, they’re fixed. I’m travelling today and hope to reply in full to comments later but yes, I should pay more attention. I have had some help with editorial work a few times and maybe I should do this more. I do welcome the feedback, good or bad the comments are usually invaluable and if it matters, I’ll aim to improve the grammar and prose.

  • Nick Monday, 27 February 2012, 7:25 pm

    I’ll gladly take the errors for daily, interesting and informative articles. Please keep up the great work, this is one of the best cycling blogs out there. Haters are always going to hate.

  • TomC Monday, 27 February 2012, 7:56 pm

    Great work as ever Inrng, we love you!

  • Routier Monday, 27 February 2012, 9:53 pm

    Ignore the pedants inrng, they’ll do us all a favour and move on to other sites once they’re bored of obsessing over grammatical minutiae on here.

    Keep up the good work!

  • JonT Monday, 27 February 2012, 9:58 pm

    Best cycling blog on the web – please ignore the trolls!

  • jerryjones Monday, 27 February 2012, 10:09 pm

    Don’t be disheartened by the “spelling and grammar bee”; it was obvious to everyone else what you meant. It’s all about interesting content and you are doing a great job.

  • STB Monday, 27 February 2012, 10:42 pm

    This blog is essential daily reading for me, a great insight into the pro-peleton. The articles are always thoughtful and interesting and go beyond the usual PR fed news releases.

    A blog is something that is often put together quickly so I appreciate sometimes the grammer or spelling is not 100%.

    It is the content that counts, keep up the great work.


  • Rod Monday, 27 February 2012, 10:48 pm

    I second what STB just said. Keep up the great work! This website and your twitter feed are much appreciated!

  • inopinatus Monday, 27 February 2012, 11:05 pm

    Strained Eyes, you have left some of the poorest and least constructive comments I have ever seen on a cycling blog. Who writes these comments? I have much higher expectations of worthless internet trolls.

    If you had a couple of nits, you should’ve framed them better rather than spewing forth bile like a poorly socialised first-year computer science undergraduate. Shame on you for writing “Is English their first language?” in particular.

    In the meantime many of us derive enormous value from INRNG’s analysis and have no troubling dealing with the occasional and irrelevant grammatical/spelling hiccough. You’d need the IQ of a tomato to glark that he was racing against four-year-olds or was six inches tall.

  • Kevin G Monday, 27 February 2012, 11:07 pm

    Rather sad and vindictive comment on what is the best cycling blog, offering a different perspective on pro cycling. I would suggest that anyone who thinks it is easy to produce blog on an almost daily basis which differs from the mainstream is welcome to put their money where their mouth is.
    Let’s keep the discussions constructive and about the cycling not the style.

  • BA's_Mohawk Monday, 27 February 2012, 11:18 pm

    Fine work here. Don’t worry about the nit pickers and the pedants. Anyone with half a brain knows you know the Van Summeren won in 2011 and that, really, any European doesn’t give a shit about feet and inches anyway. Keep up the good work and PLEASE continue to knock out great articles throughout the season. Fool.

  • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 12:16 am

    Thanks for the feedback, good or bad it is all very useful and if nobody picks me up on my bad spelling or clumsy grammar then I’ll get careless. So nit pickers please pick away, although a constructive tone is more encouraging than the “flamethrower” approach.

    I started my lunch break around midday and 19 minutes later pressed “publish” on this. I’d love to dedicate more time to the blog but sometimes it’s not possible and today was a very busy day.

  • Martin W Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 12:23 am

    INRNG — I’m a professional editor and the standard of your material day in, day out is higher than some of what I’ve seen over the years from people paid (properly paid) to do it. Anyone who thinks a few small mechanical errors and obvious easily fixed slips are a good measure of a journalist’s quality is misguided at best. Keep doing what you do!

  • Andy Logan Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 1:24 am

    Personally, couldnt give a rats about the errors. I have more than half a brain cell so I can work out that Van Summeren won in 2011 and not 2010, so figure that Sep Vanmarcke was a vital piece of the puzzle in 2011, + the fact that he is 6ft 3in tall as opposed to 6in 3in tall. Jesus it isnt rocket science.

    As others have said, this is daily reading for me as well and take great pleasure in the valuable blog posts that are provided everyday, by someone that is providing them in their own time and isnt paid for them.

    INRNG, keep it up, I like many others here value posts way more than a few spelling errors.

    Thanks for your efforts!

  • daniel Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 2:55 am

    Nice article, especially the info about his early results. I could only find the club, but nothing about what he did aged 14. Impressive.

  • Vlaanderen90 Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 3:08 am

    Davitamon-Lotto-Jong Vlaanderen didn’t turn into Topsport Vlaanderen…Vlaanderen-T Interim morphed into Chocolade Jacques – Topsport Vlaanderen and eventually morphed into Topsport Vlaanderen, and a development team as Nico Eeckhout and others were forced out.

  • TotheBillyoh Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 5:39 am

    ‘Instant’ communication often causes problems, and I am thinking of the rush to intemperate criticisms rather than typing or writing errors. Shame. What is lost is discussion of INRNG’s contention that we may be looking at the rise of a new and lasting star for Belgian cycling. Good news! And well told. Many thanks.

  • ali Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 9:04 am

    It amazes me how patient inrng is, he rises above it all. no matter how offensive the comments are.

    strained eyes: sorry if offend you with my terrible English.

  • Patrick Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 9:48 am

    I think it’s a shame that the comments have diverted away from a timely, informative and well-researched piece about an up-and-coming rider.

  • Larry T. Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 9:58 am

    JW and Ali say it best. I was hoping that the interesting stuff here might not attract the same elements that have ruined so many other blog comment sections…I’m still hoping. If folks really hate the thing so much why do they bother reading it? And if you are such a superior journalist/editor/photographer/etc. nobody is stopping you (unless maybe you’re in China?) from doing your own blog. Keep up the good work Innrg!

  • Rooie Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 10:18 am

    Loved the info on an marcke

  • Wielsucker Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 7:32 pm

    Since we are getting all the corrections in… 76kg is 76kg, cyclist or not. Let’s not create any new units of measure! That said, I’m not the least bit bothered by minor editing errors in an excellent and insightful blog.

  • John D.Reea Tuesday, 28 February 2012, 9:32 pm

    Excellent material. The mispellings? Doesnt bother me at all, im in it for the substanse not correct gramma.

  • Rouleur Wednesday, 29 February 2012, 2:23 am

    Strained Eyes, as many previous comments have noted inrng provides this free site for cycling enthusiasts that are part of the global web community. If you want polished text full of letters placed in the correct order as well as perfect grammar please click through to several other site that will provide you a calorie free buffet of words that are nothing more than marketing snacks for manufacturers of cycling products. If you are sincerely looking for a online forum to gripe about the lack of professionalism from a “pro” information site, perhaps your boundless negative energy could be better spent here: http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=corrections&srchst=cse

  • Roobay Thursday, 1 March 2012, 4:23 am

    Severe forms of pedantry can be quite an affliction so lets not mock Strained Eyes too much. When you stand back and think about it, it can be quite funny to observe: http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/11035/the-temple-of-whom-singularly-possessive.thtml

  • TheDude Friday, 9 March 2012, 6:11 am

    Just found inrng via cyclingnews. You put together nice work.

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