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“I’m always there but it’s hard for me to win, there’s always one faster guy with me,” Van Avermaet said. “I’m nearly 31 now, so for a Classics rider it’s the perfect age to start winning big...

Photo: Paumer Kare Dhelie Thorstad

GREG VAN AVERMAET

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15.02.2016 @ 11:28 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

It's such a typical case, Greg Van Avermaet. A rider who beats all the odds to climb up a ladder and deserve a sole leadership on his team, but then lacks just a little bit of spark or willpower to write his name in history books. Van Avermaet is an extremely capable one-day racer, no one dares to question that, but seeing him in a decent form every February we ask ourselves if this is a year when a notorious podium finisher turns himself into a purebred winner. With his self-confidence boosted by his victory over Peter Sagan in last season's Tour de France, the 30-year old Belgian answers: yes, the time is now.

 

Wisely deciding not to change an already proven race program, Van Avermaet kicked off his 2016 season with an appearance in the Tour of Qatar. The 30-year old BMC classics star hasn't won any stage, neither has he won the general classification, but nonetheless his form in the opening part of the season had to be called at least solid. If not impressive.

 

Van Avermaet had his sights on a victory in the general classification of the Qatari event, of course, but just like many other times, he ended up standing on a podium watching someone else taking the biggest prize. The 30-year old Belgian admitted he was impressed by a strength of Edvald Boasson Hagen and his Dimansion Data squad, but that disappointment was relatively easy to swallow having a whole season of racing ahead.

 

“I was hoping that [new race leader and stage winner Edvald] Boasson Hagen would not be so strong and that everyone would stay at the same level so that I could have taken the jersey. It's a little bit disappointing but it's only the start of the season,” Van Avermaet said, according to Cyclingnews.

While many cyclists tend do experiment with their race schedule, Van Avermaet prefers to stick to his already proven program, claiming that it offers him an optimal build up towards spring classics. Unfortunately, a seemingly relevant question whether a slight changes to his schedule could possibly allow him to make that ultimate step up and turn him into a winner, hasn't been asked.

 

“At this stage in my career, I try to do always a bit the same and it seems to work out for me,” Van Avermaet said. “I didn’t do anything special, I’ve just tried to build a good base over the winter and hopefully I will be there over the whole year.”

When phrases like „road cycling” and „near misses” are combined in one sentence, usually Peter Sagan comes to mind first, but the 30-year old Belgian rider is waiting to leave his own mark much longer than the rainbow-clad Slovakian. First he had to convince the BMC management that he deserved a sole leadership for Flemish classics, further igniting a conflict of interests between him and Philippe Gilbert. Then, Van Avermaet had to re-think his tactics for one-day races and put an end to his brave but ill-times attacks.

“I’ve worked my way up on the team. I came here as sort of a second guy behind the leaders and I’ve made it to this position because of my results, I think,” he said.

He has gone through first two steps relatively smoothly, but the final and most difficult one is yet to be made.

“I’m always there but it’s hard for me to win, because there’s always one faster guy with me,” Van Avermaet said. “But Rodez was really nice, and it’s given me a lot of confidence to carry into the Classics this year. I’ve already been second and third in Flanders, third last year in Roubaix, and I’m nearly 31 now, so for a Classics rider it’s the perfect age to start winning big races.”

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