EF Professional Biking’s Sep Vanmarcke has admitted that he was initially left in disbelief when he learn that Paris-Roubaix – one in every of his largest objectives for this season – had been cancelled on Friday. The rescheduled ‘Hell of the North’ ought to have taken place on October 25, having been postponed from its common April calendar slot, however an increase in COVID-19 circumstances in northern France signifies that the 2020 version has now been cancelled totally.
Vanmarcke informed Het Nieuwsblad that he’d returned from a coaching trip on Friday and noticed that he’d missed a variety of calls. When he checked the web, he noticed the information of Roubaix’s cancellation.
“I believed, ‘F*** – it isn’t potential!’ And I used to be then a bit confused for half an hour,” he defined on Saturday, though he might later see the reasoning behind the cancellation.
“When you have a look at the state of affairs everywhere in the world, it was the appropriate determination,” Vanmarcke mentioned. “It may well’t be proper that hospitals are at risk of moving into hassle [due to being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases] and that we’re nonetheless racing. However, after all, life has to go on someplace – in any other case folks will panic much more. Maybe Roubaix might have taken place with none spectators… These are loopy instances, for everybody.”
On the 2019 version of Paris-Roubaix, Vanmarcke was left inconsolable after having completed fourth following a jammed rear derailleur on the ultimate main cobbled sector in Gruson. It was the Belgian’s third fourth-place end on the race, and his fifth top-10 outcome.
“Thankfully, what would have been my build-up to Roubaix will stay the identical: Gent-Wevelgem [on Sunday], the Tour of Flanders [October 18] and the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne [October 21]. Issues can be totally different if all of the upcoming races have been to vanish,” he mentioned. “I have been coaching for six to seven months to be nearly 100 per cent for the primary time in my life. I’ve by no means misplaced my morale throughout this troublesome season, although I’ve few racing days.”
Vanmarcke has ridden a minimal race programme since racing resumed after the enforced break because of the coronavirus pandemic, using solely the Bretagne Basic-Ouest France, the European and Belgian highway race championships, and the BinckBank Tour earlier this month as a way to attempt to keep recent for his cobbled Classics marketing campaign.
The 32-year-old is out of contract with EF Professional Biking on the finish of the season, and when requested whether or not shedding the chance to attempt to improve his market worth at favoured-race Roubaix was a priority, Vanmarcke admitted that it stays to be seen what impact this shortened season may have.
“It is totally different to when Paris-Roubaix is held in April and the market opens,” he mentioned. “Now we will be on the finish October and there will not a lot to play with with regards to workforce budgets. With a win or a podium [at the Classics], there’ll maybe be solely a slight improve [in riders’ market value].”
On the finish of September, Vanmarcke confirmed to Het Nieuwsblad that he had a contract-extension provide on the desk from EF Professional Biking, and that he was “weighing it up towards the opposite gives I’ve”.
“After the final race, I am going to decide,” he mentioned on Saturday. “I’ve by no means skilled this earlier than; usually, I might have a contract settled pretty early, however now all the things is totally different.
“Usually [at this point in the season], I am solely at about 80 per cent of my greatest. I’ve by no means headed in direction of the winter break in such good situation,” mentioned Vanmarcke. “Let’s simply hope we now have a traditional spring subsequent season.”