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“For me it’s the first test, the first important race of the year. I really worked hard this winter to be good on the cobbles. I’ve always been close on the cobbles and I hope to win one of them,” Greg Van Avermaet t...

Photo: Sirotti

GREG VAN AVERMAET

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NEWS

OMLOOP HET NIEUWSBLAD

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS

PHILIPPE GILBERT

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NEWS
01.03.2014 @ 15:17 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

The arrival of Philippe Gilbert to BMC right after his splendid 2011 season came to an end suggested that Greg Van Avermeat’s ambitions will have to be put on hold once again, since the duo parted their ways as the younger of Belgians left Lotto Belisol to chase his own success.

The history didn’t repeat itself, however, and even though Van Avermaet was indeed appointed to ride in a supporting role to Gilbert again, he received more opportunities than it could have been initially predicted as the former World Champion in road race was struggling last two seasons to at least partially reconstruct his impressive disposition from 2011.

 

Gilbert never managed to reach this objectives last two seasons, and as the whole BMC squad seemed to suffer from the lack of motivation and well defined directions in which they should develop their further careers, the change in the management of the American World Tour team caused a visible revival and new possibilities for the leaders, including Van Avermaet.

 

As the racing schedule previously followed by Gilbert didn’t bear any fruit, the new BMC team manager Allan Peiper decided that the Belgian should focus on a explicitly defined targets instead of trying to dominate in the races throughout the whole spring, and thus he is expected to hit his top disposition for the Ardennes classics, while Van Avermaet was appointed the leader of the American squad for cobbles in 2014.

 

Being finally given an opportunity he was craving for while leaving the Lotto Belisol team, on the eve of cobbled season’s opening Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the 28-year old Belgian admitted it feels strange to approach those races without Gilbert and was rather reluctant to call himself a leader.

 

“It feels a bit different,” Van Avermaet said.

 

“It’s a little bit strange for me that he’s not here but he’s taking another way to be good for his goals, and we have other riders who can win these races also.”

 

Although given a new responsibilities, Van Avermaet will face his new challenges in the very well known and perfectly suitable to his characteristics surroundings.

 

“When you come to Ronse, there the race starts,” Van Avermaet said quietly.

 

“Then the Taaienberg is a crucial part in the race, you have to be in front there. After that, it’s always hills and cobbles. If you don’t crash and if you have the form, then you will be up there.”

 

The weather forecasts for Flanders proved to be all right with the steady rainfall being expected, but the 28-year old Belgian stayed unruffled by the prospect as he had plenty of time to get used to such circumstances.

 

“It’s typical Belgium, I’m used to training in it,” he said.

 

Apart from Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma-Quick Step being the biggest favourite to come up with the goods in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Van Avermaet pointed out to Jürgen Roelandts as another strong contender after his impressive showings in Qatar and Oman.

 

“Roelandts was really good there. He’s made a goal of this race and he’s always good here,” Van Avermaet said.

 

Just like Roelandts, Van Avermaet has to be regarded as one of few riders in the professional peloton whose characteristics are extremely suited to excel in the northern Europe’s cobbled races, but still searching for their first major win in Flemish classics. Van Avermaet admits he is ready and certainly he will find himself in very favourable circumstances to finally leave his own mark.

 

“I think I’m ready for it,” Van Avermaet said.

 

“For me it’s the first test, the first important race of the year. I really worked hard this winter to be good on the cobbles. I’ve always been close on the cobbles and I hope to win one of them.”

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