Van Avermaet aims to snap classics drought at Flanders

Greg Van Avermaet senses the big victory is on its way with the cobbled monuments approaching.

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WAREGEM, Belgium (VN) — Greg Van Avermaet senses the big victory is on its way with the cobbled monuments approaching: Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

‘Golden Greg,’ as the Belgian is called after his 2016 Olympic win, has come up short this 2018 season so far. In 2017, BMC’s star won left and right, including Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, and Gent-Wevelgem.

After placing third in E3 Harelbeke and eight in Dwars door Vlaanderen Wednesday, there is a sense that something could soon change this season.

“If I can have the big victory on Sunday it would be perfect,” Van Averment said

“But it was nice also last year to have some victories already [before Flanders] on the palmarès. I’m happy that I’m always there. I’m confident with my form. I think I can do something on Sunday.”

Greg Van Avermaet
Greg Van Avermaet rode in the peloton, sheltered by his BMC Racing teammates. Photo: Tim De Waele/Getty Images

Sunday, the one-day cobbles warriors take on the Tour of Flanders. Last year, despite his remarkable run-up to the race, he and other stars were caught off-guard by a long-range 55.5-kilometer attack from Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors). He fell with Peter Sagan, clipping a fan’s jacket on the Kwaremont during their chase.

Though the wins are not there, the fitness is this 2018 season. Van Avermaet had his team firing in Gent-Wevelgem so he could make the final group and Wednesday, in a wet and cold Dwars door Vlaanderen, he attacked.

The winning move with eventual victor Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) went free, but Van Avermaet kept going with Lampaert’s teammate Zdenek Stybar trying to block his every move.

“It was a good race but not such a good result. I think with these legs I could have been sprinting for first, for sure, but that’s how the situation sometimes goes,” he continued.

“I think we just got caught back on the Varent [climb], me and Tiesj Benoot, and then you know you hesitate a bit because you did a big effort before. You look a bit to the other favorites and Tiesj and me got a bit stuck behind and it was hard to catch up again. We tried to make the race as good as possible to come to Waregem.”

Greg Van Avermaet
Van Avermaet got away with Tiesj Benoot at one point in Dwars on Wednesday. Photo: Tim De Waele/Getty Images

The odds-makers have Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) as the outright favorite at 3-to-1, but Van Averment is second-best at 5-to-1 for Sunday in Flanders.

Last year, though missing out in Flanders, he took his revenge with Paris-Roubaix. He is now racing on form that could see him get his first Tour of Flanders and that could carry him well to Paris-Roubaix the following Sunday.

“I’m pretty happy with my form. It feels pretty good,” Van Avermaet said.

“Every week, it’s even a little bit better. I think I’m there for Sunday.

“Sunday’s the race that fits me the best. So, I’m looking forward and maybe everything goes right on Sunday.”

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