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"He [Sebastian Lander] will be doing one-day races, stage races, and we’ll see where he fits in the best – as a team mate, as a sprinter, as a puncheur, as an all-rounder..? After one season we’ll have a more clear id...



29.01.2013 @ 15:50 Posted by Asger Bruun Nielsen og Adam Aisen

Following the widely covered presentation of professional cycling’s veritable dream team, BMC Racing, caught Directeur Sportif, John Lelangue, for a chat about one of the newest additions to the BMC family, neo-pro Sebastian Lander, who went supersonic at the 2012 national championships by holding off a peloton of seasoned pros and domestic journeymen to claim the coveted Dannebrog-jersey – all at the tender age of 21.

And it’s no secret that the Danish cycling community was equally surprised and thrilled to discover that Sebastian Lander had signed with BMC for the 2013 season. A brief press release announced that he was going to be joining the team on a two-year contract, and that Lander was “an extremely talented young rider with a lot of ability” according to Jim Ochowicz, co-owner of the BMC Racing Team. But how exactly did the young Dane capture the attention of the men in charge?

“We received some information about him, [started, Ed.] looking into him a little bit, and then we met last year and had our final discussions during the World Championships in the hotel of the national team near Valkenburg…,“ DS John Lelangue explains to “We knew his qualities and had looked into the potential that he had, and from his results we knew that he could learn a lot from us, and that’s why he’s now with us…”

John Lelangue says that because there are literally tons of talented under-23 riders, it’s crucial that teams choose just one or two riders to focus their attention on. According to Lelangue you have to look “a little bit to the international races, to the classic races that you can do” on an under-23 level and eventually zoom in on “the kind of riders that you’re looking for”.

In Lelangue’s opinion Sebastian Lander is an interesting rider because of the versatility and fighting prowess he has already displayed. Lander has a bright future at BMC, but it’s important for Lelangue to stress that he doesn’t expect any miracles from the neo-pro on his maiden voyage.

“I think he has a lot to learn – with the classics team and with the stage races – and he has time to grow without pressure, without having to make success. It’s just a learning process…,” says the DC and adds with genuine compassion: “That’s the most important thing to me: That he can learn.”


A soft approach

Sebastian Lander has a long season ahead of him, and the 21-year old is probably anxious to kick it off in the red and black kit of the BMC Racing Team as soon as possible (which will be at Italian race Trofeo Laiguelia on February 16). And Directeur Sportif, John Lelangue, has intentionally a soft approach planned for the Dane.

“Obviously we won’t put him in [races like, Ed.] Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico right from the beginning – that would be totally stupid on our part! We want to give him the possibility to go step-by-step” says Lelangue and explains that Lander will be doing the Six-days of Copenhagen before attending another BMC team training camp held in mid-February. The team understands that Lander is both a talented and passionate track rider and wants him to also be able to pursue his ambitions in this regard.

Experienced men such as long-time DS, Aussie Allan Peiper, and ex-Olympic medalist, Anglo-Italian Max Sciandri, will be guiding Sebastian Lander through his first season as a pro, but when it comes to pairing the Dane with more seasoned riders in the BMC outfit to accelerate his growth, John Lelangue is a lot more hesitant:

“I think that first he has to find his position in the group, and those experienced riders [that you’re talking about, Ed.] are going directly to the major races to get results, so the pressure is maybe a little bit too high for him as a first step… It won’t be until after that that we’ll find his position to see, where he’s at…”


Learning to roll with the puncheurs

Lelangue’s reluctance to put restraints or formulas on his newest purchase is equally unequivocal when it comes to the career prospects of the Danish champion:

“I think it’s too early to really tell, what kind of rider he is..[…] can be one sort of rider on the U23 panel, but the WorldTour is really different” says Lelangue. “I think that first he’ll have to find his position. He’ll be doing one-day races, stage races, and we’ll see where he fits in the best – as a team mate, as a sprinter, as a puncheur, as an all-rounder..? After one season we’ll have a more clear idea…”

So we shouldn’t expect too much from Sebastian Lander in 2013 – he has to find himself as a rider and learn how to roll with the puncheurs, so to speak. But one cannot help but wonder: How far can the young champion go? John Lelangue has an immediate response:

“I hope as far as possible! If you look at the worlds this year – with 500 meters to the line, he was still in a good wheel, so… He was missing the last bit, but…”

John Lelangue says that even though he didn’t himself attend the Danish national championships back in June, he “saw the report, and what he did that day..[…]..means that he can fight, and even if the peloton is coming back he doesn’t lose motivation. It shows that he’s ready to fight until the line, and that’s very important…”

Directly asked whether this was the first time Lelangue had noticed the talented Dane, he willingly concedes:

“That was maybe the first time… I mean, I had already heard his name from different sources, but becoming national champion and beating those guys… It means he’s ready to go…”


John Lelangue has served as Directeur Sportif for the BMC Racing Team since 2008. Before this he played an integral role at the now defunct Phonak Team, which – like BMC – was largely financed by Swiss entrepreneur, venture capitalist and cycling aficionado, Andy Rihs. Among his greatest achievements are the 2011 Tour de France victory with Cadel Evans and the silver medal at the inaugural World TTT Championships – narrowly missing out on gold by just a handful of seconds.  John Lelangue is the son of former Belgian cyclist and Molteni team manager, Robert Lelangue.



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