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“I haven’t won a race since September 2014, so I felt that I really had the need to grab another victory. The whole team pushed to their limits to give me the chance to win this one."

Photo: LottoNL-Jumbo


19.06.2016 @ 00:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sep Vanmarcke continued the marvelous Ster ZLM Toer for LottoNL-Jumbo by winning the queen stage in impressive fashion. After Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM) was caught inside the final 2km, he beat Wout van Aert (Crelan) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) in the uphill sprint in La Gileppe and as race leader Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) could only manage fourth, the result allowed him to take the race lead.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Sep Vanmarcke: I really needed this victory

Sep Vanmarcke won the queen stage of the Ster ZLM Toer today ahead of Wout Van Aert (Crelan - Vastgoedservice) in a sprint-à-deux in La Gileppe. The Belgian took the overall lead with victory, sitting five seconds ahead of Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) with one day to race.


“This is a very beautiful victory,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “We already won with three different riders in this race. It’s almost impossible to do better than this.”


A numerous breakaway escaped in the beginning of the penultimate stage of the Ster ZLM Toer. Ten riders gained a maximum advantage of three minutes, but with only 35 kilometres to go, the difference was still two minutes.


“Vegard Stake Laengen [IAM Cycling] broke away on his own at that point and we decided to help in the chase to close the gap,” Verhoeven continued. “It was our goal to go for the stage win and the general classification with Sep Vanmarcke and we succeeded.”


“Sep already showed his strength during yesterday’s sprint preparation for Dylan Groenewegen so he should have been able to make difference in today’s stage. He finished it off beautifully.”


Vanmarcke said:


“I haven’t won a race since September 2014, so I felt that I really had the need to grab another victory. The whole team pushed to their limits to give me the chance to win this one. Timo Roosen sacrificed himself on the final climb and I broke away just before the steepest part. It’s a perfect scenario to grab the leader’s jersey, as well. I don’t have much of advantage, but it’s going to be very hard for De Bie to close that five-second gap. We’re doing a great job with the whole team this week and we’re ready to defend this jersey.


"This victory makes me enormously happy. My spring was very good but I lacked the victory. Now I have it. It's pretty amazing that I can win here. I do not win so often, it was almost two years since I last won. I was in need of another victory. The team is very strong at the moment, there is a positive vibe. This stage was a bit too hard for our sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, so we had another plan and it turned out well.


"Timo Roosen has fully sacrificed himself on the final climb and when I was in front on the steepest part I rode away with Wout van Aert. We were the strongest two. I knew I was well positioned in the last corner, but it was still important to finish it off. It was difficult, but I won. This is very important, especially so close to the Belgian Championships and the Tour. This gives me confidence for the Belgian Championships which also takes place on a difficult course."


Team LottoNL-Jumbo has to fight strongly to hold Vanmarcke’s small lead.


“There are still 16 bonus seconds available,” Verhoeven explained. “The overall victory isn’t safe yet. We have to fight with the whole team and be focussed.”


Pieter Vanspeybrouck bounces back from teeth surgery with third place in Ster ZLM Toer

Topsport Vlaanderen had Pieter Vanspeybrouck in third.


“After teeth surgery the first days of @SterZLMtoer weren't so good. Today again good feeling! 3th place. Congratz @sepvanmarcke,” he tweeted.


Sean De Bie loses leader's jersey in Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

Sean De Bie got fourth. The Lotto Soudal rider lost his leader’s jersey to Vanmarcke and is now second at five seconds.


His teammate André Greipel worked hard to help De Bie.


"We had to work hard the whole day to defend the yellow jersey of my teammate Sean De Bie,” he told “It was not nice that ten riders were in front. It was very difficult in the beginning but also with the many climbs. We were just three to control the race.”


"We did a super strong race so it is a pity that we have lost the jersey today, but that’s cycling. And I think Sep Vanmarcke was the best in today’s stage.


"I had a flat tire in the final. Of course that was bad luck that since I could not help anymore.”


Marco Marcato shows form in Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

Marco Marcato finished fifth.


"It was not bad today. I feel quite good at the moment. With the bad weather I can't give my 100%. In the end to have a good position at the bottom of the last climb I had to make a hard effort so maybe I lost some power for the main part of the climb. The team gave me a full support. My teammates worked hard to keep me at the front. I'm looking forward to the final day and the next races,” he said.


Davide Martinelli shows his potential in Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

Neo-pro Davide Martinelli was also a protagonist on the sharp ramp, putting his explosiveness to work and crossing the line a few seconds behind the winner. Seventh on the queen-stage, he climbed to 5th place in the general classification – less than half a minute adrift – a position he is poised to hold on to in the last day of the race (Someren – Boxtel, 186 kilometers)


"The course suited me, and I really liked the fact that we went over La Redoute and Rosier, two climbs which play such an important role in Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The finish suited me and I must thank the team for protecting and bringing me to the front. When the others left, I tried to follow, but they had stronger legs. Still, I am happy with the outcome and with being in the top 5 at the moment. I will fight to keep my position, while also helping the team on the final day", concluded 23-year-old Martinelli, for whom a top 10 in Ster ZLM Toer would be his best result of the season in the GC of a stage race.


Søren Kragh Andersen close to GC podium after Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

For Giant-Alpecin, Søren Kragh Andersen finished 8th. In the overall classification, he is now fourth.


Unfortunately both Nikias Arndt and Lars van der Haar were unable to finish the race today due fatigue after a busy racing period.

Coach Mattias Reck said:


“The goal was to sprint for Søren.It ended up being a very tough day with a lot of climbing but the race was under control. Normally the race would finish in a hilly bunch sprint and we were able to follow all the big important moves towards the end.


“The break was caught just before the last 3km and Bert [De Backer] did a good job protecting Søren in the finale. He finished with another top 10 result which shows that he is in good shape at the moment.”


Stefan Küng and Taylor Phinney lose ground in Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

The action moved to Belgium on what was dubbed as the Ster ZLM Toer - GP Jan van Heeswijk Queen Stage, with Joey Rosskopf spending the day in the breakaway and Jempy Drucker finish ninth behind stage winner and new race leader, Sep Vanmarcke (Team Lotto-Jumbo)


After a long day of climbing, Taylor Phinney moved out of the top ten on the General Classification, while Stefan Küng sits eighth and Jempy Drucker moved into ninth as we head into tomorrow’s final stage.


BMC sport director, Jackson Stewart said: “It was definitely part of the plan to put Joey in today’s move. We wanted to keep the pressure on the other teams and wanted to make it a hard race today, and we certainly did that. The final climb made it a tricky sprint for the line and prove difficult for a lot of the riders in the peloton after a long day of racing.”


Jempy Drucker said: “It was pretty much up and down all day with some really good racing especially as we made our way onto the final short climb. Ninth is definitely not a bad result but I was just too far back when Vanmarcke made his move and I just couldn’t close the gap to the front. I am feeling in good shape right now! I felt good at Tour of Luxembourg and I am happy that I have been able to continue racing in that shape here.”


Joey Rosskopf said: "Before the stage we set out a plan to race aggressively which included having someone in the break and then also trying our luck with some late race attacks. It was a hard uphill start, but I was pleased to make it into the break. I've been a little unsure of my form following the Giro last month, so it also felt great to get out in front and have a chance to push myself. The field never let us get more than two and a half minutes, so I think it made for a pretty hard day all around, break and peloton alike.


"As we were getting caught with 15 kilometers to go it was also great to see Stefan fly by me off the front of the field, carrying out the next step of the team's plan. It may have not worked out perfectly this time, but it's always good to see everyone racing hard."


Strong Vegard Stake Laengen nearly makes big coup in Ster ZLM Toer queen stage

Full of strength, Vegard Stake Laengen broke away from his breakaway companions with 36 kilometers to go to the finish. They were able to catch back up to him only after he had already passed under the flamme rouge. 


“I escaped from the start with nine other riders,” Stake Laengen explained. “After we had covered a good chunk of kilometers, collaboration became difficult within the group. So I attacked several times, and I ended up being alone. I gave everything I had. And I sincerely believed I could get the victory. The last two kilometers were atrocious. I pushed as hard as possible on the pedals, but I lacked the strength to stay away after such a long solo raid. At the foot of the Gileppe, my advantage was not enough to stay away until the finish line. That’s too bad. But honestly, I preferred to race this way than try to spend the day in the bunch.”


Sports director Kjell Carlström said:


“It was like a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Vegard was very strong. He did a great job and had a great race. The final climb of Gileppe is very technical. One kilometer, the road is narrow and the gradient averages around 9%. The peloton was too close to Vegard, unfortunately. I also want to acknowledge the wonderful work that Simon Pellaud, Pirmin Lang, and Leigh Howard did. There were a great help when protecting Roger Kluge. Hat’s off to all of them.”


Having taken 21st place in the queen stage, just 22 seconds behind the stage winner Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto NL Jumbo), the German sprinter Roger Kluge remained in the top-10 in the overall classification, sitting comfortably in 7th place, 30 seconds behind the overall leader.


Jonas Van Genechten who has been suffering from headaches resulting from a sinus infection, left the ZLM race Saturday. Consequently, the sports management and the medical staff will decide the date of his return to competition.



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