Het Nieuwsblad winner, Sebastian Langeveld, satisfied with fifth place in Flanders
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Het Nieuwsblad winner, Sebastian Langeveld, satisfied with fifth place in Flanders

by Jered Gruber at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Flanders
Dutch rider and team happy with Sunday's race

The loss of Nick Nuyens to Saxo Bank and Matti Breschel's lost spring will always be mentioned in respect to Rabobank's Classics campaign.

With Nuyens soaring to hitherto unheard of heights and Breschel moving slowly forward with his disturbed knee, the rest of the Rabobank team have had a chance to show their wares without major pressure and without the burden of sacrificing everything for one leader.

The result has been excellent. While Rabobank was not able to step onto the podium in Meerbeke, they were a major factor in the race - represented at the head of affairs in small, aggressive, race shaping moves, and finally represented by a rider coming of age in 2011, Sebastian Langeveld.

The 26 year old once again highlighted the team's effort. His fifth place performance on Sunday goes together nicely with his opening win at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Afterwards, the Dutchman was satisfied with his effort, and why not - it was without question his best performance in one of the year's two defining cobbled classics. Not only was it his best finish, he charged off with four kilometers remaining in a bid for victory.

Following a series of attacks when the group of favorites merged together in the final kilometers, Langeveld made a perfectly timed move to come over the top of an agonizing period of aggression.

Langeveld was the first of the leading dozen to get more than a meter of a gap over everyone else, and for the first time, everyone looked at each other - the eyebrows raised - could this be the move that would take the day? It hardly seemed impossible. With so many major names in the lead group, with such a hard race already in their legs, could it be possible that an outsider might get away in the finale? It wouldn't be the first time.

Unfortunately, just as those thoughts started to creep into the mind and just as the Sporza commentary uttered the famous, 'ooh la la,' Alessandro Ballan snapped to attention and put paid to the effort with one mighty push.

"The peloton hesitated for a moment, though it was only a split second," said the rising star to Rabosport after the race.

Looking back after the race, Langeveld was pleased, but confessed that his attack was his best chance at glory.

Speaking with NUSport immediately after crossing the line, Langeveld shrugged: "I had to try. In the sprint, I didn't stand a chance."

On his team's website later, Langeveld's enthusiasm over being a part of the final act of a race like the Ronde van Vlaanderen is clear.

"It was nervous and exciting, and everything was possible. My opportunity came, but it was just not enough."

His fifth place finish demonstrated that he might have been mistaken though. A threesome decided the race, Boonen followed, then it was Langeveld. Playing the woulda, shoulda, coulda game, Langeveld's move with four kilometers remaining provided the perfect setup for Cancellara's jet propelled jump that eliminated all but two others from contention - could Langeveld have followed Cancellara's move?

Any regrets? "Absolutely not. I was good, but you also need a little luck. I finally finished fifth, and that is a nice confirmation."

Even with a humanized Cancellara finishing third, Langeveld's respect for the four-time World Time Trial Champion is apparent.

"You could see that the difficult course was for Cancellara. Everyone focused on him, and he still rode away from us. He was, I think, the best man in the race. He is not unbeatable though."

His knowledge and understanding of Cancellara's power, along with his immediate rivals's abilities and interests, played very strongly in Langeveld's game plan.

"I expected Cancellara to attack, but I didn't think I could follow, so I did not even try. I thought riders like Boonen and Gilbert would organize, which happened. On the Muur, we brought them [Cancellara and Chavanel] back."

Rabobank team management were also pleased with the day's proceedings.

"We rode at the head of the race as we wanted. We were constantly in the race and determined the race. That's what we did and what we wanted to do. Beforehand, expectations from the media and the public were not high…but we knew that was because of Lars's sickness, the aftermath of Sebastian's fall in Sanremo, and Freire's absence from Gent-Wevelgem."

Langeveld and his aggressive Rabobank team will get another chance at glory in less than a week.


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