After he left E3 Harelbeke in an ambulance, it seemed that Sebastian Langeveld’s Classics campaign might be over for 2015. The Dutch national road race champion suffered elbow, shoulder, and knee contusions in a bad crash about 40 kilometers into the race, an event that also saw Fabian Cancellara badly injured and forced to cut his own Classics program short as well.
But Langeveld, Cannondale-Garmin’s team leader for the cobbled races, was determined to make an effort at getting back onto the bike before the big one-day events came to a close; for a Classics specialist, this is the most important time of the season, and the 30-year-old couldn’t not give a shot. After skipping Gent-Wevelgem, he headed out on a training ride last Wednesday, and then he joined the team’s recon ride of Flanders on Thursday, where he was able to get a sense of his readiness to start racing again—and the scouting trip apparently gave him enough confidence to take on De Ronde.
Only a little a week after his E3 hospital visit, Langeveld managed to stay roughly with the peloton at the Tour of Flanders, finishing at the back of the main group a few minutes behind winner Alexander Kristoff.
The 264-kilometer Tour of Flanders is not an easy race for a recovering rider, but Langeveld told VeloHuman that just being at the race got him back into competitive mode, so much so that he was even a bit disappointed at not contending for the win despite only just returning from injury.
“You want to give your absolute best for the team, you start the season in January as the leader for the Classics, and then the last ten days I was twice on the ground in my races, so mentally, that’s not easy,” Langeveld said. “Physically, it’s also not easy. Two days ago I didn’t know that I was going to start in Flanders, so I’m really happy that I finished the race, that I made the kilometers, etc. But on the other hand, you’re not going to ride Flanders as a training . . . so a little bit of disappointment, but maybe in a few hours I’m happy and I can see it a little bit more in another perspective and try to see the positive thing about it.”
The long day on the bike gave Langeveld an opportunity to get a sense of where he is fitness-wise after taking a few days off following the crash. His assessment? Things are quickly returning to normal.
“I was pretty good until the second time on Kwaremont, which is a little bit normal. My last real race was Sanremo, and I was five days off the bike, so that’s not ideal towards a Monument,” he said.
Paris-Roubaix is just around the corner. Langeveld was 8th in the race last year, and started this year hoping for more on the cobbles in France. In pursuit of a result in 2015, it would obviously be important for Cannondale-Garmin’s team leader to be at full strength, but his day at De Ronde gave Langeveld confidence that he’s already back in shape to contend at Paris-Roubaix.
“I think for sure I’m recovered enough,” he said. “Wednesday was my first training and today, it’s a really good thing that I have the kilometers in the legs, and then Wednesday I have another race, Scheldeprijs, and then we’ll do the recon. And now I have a full week, I can also prepare mentally. Two days ago, it was all 50/50 if I was going to make the start or not. But if you’re on the start line in Flanders . . . these are the races where you train for it all winter. We will see next week. For sure it’s a race where I would like to do a result, but we’ll have to see how the recovery goes. As far as I can see, the body, I had no problems with my injury. So that’s a good thing.”
Langeveld noted after the Tour of Flanders that Cannondale-Garmin is keeping things pretty stress-free; if anyone is putting pressure on Langeveld to be at his best for Roubaix, it’s Langeveld himself: “The team is as good as the leader, and they also know that I was on the ground twice and so they didn’t put any pressure on me, they just said try to do the race as good as possible. . . . The first plan was just to start here and do 200 km. Just at the finish I was a little bit disappointed but now I’m already trying to see the bigger thing for next week,” he said.