Israel Start-Up Nation started out the Spring Classic season with an impressive team performance as Sep Vanmarcke finished third in Saturday’s one-day WorldTour race Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Despite taking the start with only five riders – and with Vanmarcke suffering a crash after 120 km – the team stuck together and managed to enter the key points of the race in a prime position.
After being perfectly delivered to the entrance of the Molenberg ascent, Vanmarcke was quick to respond when the first dangerous attacks began. A strong group of pre-race favorites got away at this point and they quickly opened up a gap of over half a minute on the peloton.
Ultimately, it all came back together again as the peloton took on the feared combination of Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg within the final 20 km of the race. Once again, Vanmarcke was attentive near the front. However, as nobody managed to distance the peloton for good, Vanmarcke quickly changed his focus to the final sprint. Originally, the plan was to help out Tom Van Asbroeck, but when he was caught up behind a crash, Vanmarcke didn’t hesitate to get in on the action in the sprint.
Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) took the win while Vanmarcke finished third after a strong sprint towards the line, getting him back on the podium in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the fourth time after winning the race in 2012.
Sep Vanmarcke: “This was a great team performance, especially with only five riders at the start. After my crash, Norman (Vahtra) helped me get back to the front and then Mads (Würtz Schmidt) put me in a perfect position at the very front as we entered Molenberg. From that moment, the race was on. We went really fast and I was surprised to see it all come back together before the Muur. After that, I knew it was going to be a bunch sprint. Tom said he still felt good, so I decided to work for him as he’s faster than me. However, with two kilometers to go, he got caught up behind a crash and I couldn’t find him anymore so I decided just to try and go for the sprint and give the team a good result. At the end, it worked out and I finished on the podium again. It feels good to be back in business!”
“Did you see daddy up on the podium??”
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) February 27, 2021