Best Finish to Date for Sebastian Langeveld at E3 Harelbeke

Sat 23 Mar 2013

Sebastian Langeveld rode a gutsy, tactical ride into Harelbeke to earn his best finish to date at the Belgian Classic. Storming across the line in fifth, Langeveld was part of a five rider chase group that finished slightly more than a minute behind E3 Harelbeke winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard Trek). 

“This is a big race, and I’m happy with the result,” said Langeveld. “With my condition and the strength of the team, I think we can definitely do something next week in Flanders and the week after in Roubaix. These are the big goals.”

As the protected rider, Langeveld enjoyed an anonymous start to the 218 kilometre day.

“There were a lot of attacks in the beginning, and we had a couple of riders going with the early moves and paying attention to who was going up the road,” explained Langeveld. “For me, it was just a matter of saving energy and going for the finale. My teammates supported me really well before the finish. Jens Mouris especially did a good job. When we hit the Taaienberg, it was my job to go with the big boys.”

It was a job well done. When Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) forced a split over the Taaienberg, Langeveld found himself caught out. He eventually broke away from the bunch in a small chase group and led the chasers to Boonen’s group ahead.

“I was a little out of position before the Taaienberg, and I know this moment is always key,” Langeveld said. “Before this hill, there are cross-winds and small roads. It’s important to be in the top-ten going into the Taaienberg or it will be difficult to go with the first riders when they attack. I had to close the gap that opened. In that moment, my race could have been over if I had not responded. Luckily, I had really good legs today. I had the condition I needed to bridge across.”

An elite group had formed off the front. Langeveld was in good company in the 11-rider move. With Boonen, Cancellara, Zdenek Stybar and Stijn Vandenberg (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), Mathew Hayman and Edvald Boasson Hagan (Sky), Daniel Oss (BMC) and Vincent Jerome (Europcar) as breakmates, Langeveld looked as if had made the race winning move.

Pre-race favourites Heinrich Haussler (IAM) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) had missed out on the selection, the latter due to mechanical issues. The two leaders sent their respective teams to the front where the chase efforts successfully brought back the Langeveld’s move before the Kapelberg. Almost immediately following the catch, the group broke off the front again. This time, they were joined by Sagan, Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) while Boom missed out.

Boonen put in one last dig on the Paterberg but was unable to split the group further. It would be Cancellara’s attack on the Oude Kwaremont that would prove decisive.

“I knew that Cancellara was going to attack on the Kwaremont,” said Langeveld. “I tried to be the first one on his wheel. When he went, I wanted to respond, but he was going just a little too fast for me at that moment. The strongest rider in the race was gone, and I stuck behind.”

Cancellara’s attack scattered the favourites across the Oude Kwaremont. By the time he had reached the top of the hill he had 15” on the first chase group. Langeveld joined forces with Sagan, Oss, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) in pursuit of Cancellara.

“In the beginning, there wasn’t anything we could do,” admitted Langeveld. “It wasn’t that we didn’t want to chase but we couldn’t. We didn’t have the legs. We turned things around a little bit after the Kwaremont, but with Sagan in the group, that was also disruptive. We were looking at second with Cancellara gone up the road, but if we took Sagan up to the front, we would race for second as well. There was a definite feeling in the group about that.”

“We didn’t really go full, full gas until the end,” Langeveld added. “It wouldn’t have mattered. Cancellara would have won anyway. He was the strongest today.”

Oss opened up the sprint for second. Sagan managed to come around the Italian ahead of the line. Thomas took fourth leaving Langeveld with fifth ahead of Chavanel.

“I’m happy with the result, and I think we can go with confidence into Sunday,” said Langeveld. “The team is in a good spot at the moment.”

Note: We saw questions about Jens Keukeleire on Twitter following his minor crash. Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage said: “It was nothing – not even a crash. He touched wheels with the rider in front of him and fell over. He is uninjured and was able to finish the race without problems.