Sep Vanmarcke has been signed by the Cannondale-Drapac team for 2017, the American WorldTour team confirmed on Friday.
It’s a return to the team for Vanmarcke, who rode for a previous incarnation of the squad when it was known as Garmin-Sharp. Since 2013, he has ridden for Blanco/Belkin/LottoNL-Jumbo.
Vanmarcke joins the team to add some serious firepower to its classics line-up. Vanmarcke won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad when with Garmin in 2012, and consistently finishes in the top five of major spring classics, including second in Paris-Roubaix in 2013.
This season the 28-year-old won the Ster ZLM Toer overall, and placed second in Ghent-Wevelgem, third in the Tour of Flanders and fourth in Paris-Roubaix.
“I’ve always kept a special feeling for the team, because I started my career in the WorldTour as part of the Slipstream organisation [Cannondale team owner],” said Vanmarcke.
Watch: Paris-Roubaix 2016 highlights
“My contact with the team over the past years has always been warm and with respect for each other. Knowing my contract was expiring, I was not surprised that Jonathan Vaughters and Cannondale-Drapac showed interest in me. But what surprised me was their idea for the future.”
“I’m 28 years old, my strongest years are ahead of me and I want all the details to be in place in order to reach my goals,” Vanmarcke continued. “The potential in this team is huge, the shareholders and sponsors have the same goals as I have, there is already a good and experienced classics group, including riders as Sebastian Langeveld and youngster Dylan van Baarle.”
Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters had hinted via Twitter that the team had signed a major classics rider, saying on Thursday afternoon: “I love Paris-Roubaix. It’s my favorite race, by far. So, I figured we needed to sign a guy that can win Paris-Roubaix. And we did…”
In a statement issued on Friday, Vaughters said: “When Sep left us, I understood it. He needed to go to a bigger budget team. I always thought, though, ‘if we ever get another opportunity with this guy, I’m going to put everything I have into it.’
“I believe he can win Roubaix, I believe he can win Flanders. He’s a hard, Flandrian rider who knows how to get the job done.”