Van Avermaet Goes Back to Back at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad25. February 2017, Gent (BEL) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet claimed his second consecutive win at Omloop Het Niuewsblad with a stunning sprint to the line ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgohe) and Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team).
The opening Classic of the season proved as tough as they come with a strong field vying for the UCI WorldTour win.
It took over an hour for a breakaway of six riders to go clear, with the group eventually gaining eight minutes on the peloton.
A huge crash took out half the bunch with 62km to go, side-lining Daniel Oss and Floris Gerts, and many of the pre-race favorites. With BMC Racing Team up the front, Greg Van Avermaet avoided any trouble and was in the perfect position on the next cobbled section where the race opened up.
Just 7km later, Van Avermaet was in a group of just eleven riders closing in on the breakaway and with 40km to go, the catch was made.
Van Avermaet, Sagan and Vanmarcke were in the lead 20km before the finish line, and it was this trio that would hold off the reduced peloton and battle it out for the win.
The three riders were eyeing each other in the final 2km but it was Van Avermaet who was positioned well on the inside approaching the line and sprinted to claim his first win of the season.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Greg, congratulations! How hard was the race today?
"The race was really hard. It was a beautiful race and we made it hard together with Peter Sagan. We opened up the race at the right time at Eikenberg. It was really nice to come with three guys to the finish and wonderful that I could finish it off. I had confidence from last year that I could win in a sprint on this finish and in the end, it was a good sprint and I am really happy with what I did today."
How does it feel to be Olympic Champion and to win here at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad twice in a row?
"It's an amazing feeling. Last year, my season started here with a big victory and now it's the same this year. It's nice to come home and to win the first race on home ground. It's just such a nice feeling with so many fans out on the road and for me, it is the perfect start to the season."
Does this give you confidence for the rest of the Classics season?
“Flanders is my biggest goal. It's a hard race but if everything goes well I have a big chance. I’ve had a good start to the year already and this win gives me even more confidence."
How do you feel about this victory after a complicated winter with an injury?
"It was nice to win here because you always come to this race with a lot of expectations. I was a little bit behind on the schedule so you still have to see where you are at the big races and the races that suit me. This is a really good start and I am happy. Just like last year, this gives me confidence and takes some of the pressure off the other races. My big goal is Tour of Flanders and it is there that I have to be in top form and it's there I want to make a good result."
Valerio Piva, Sports Director:
"I am very happy about this result. Greg was our leader and we knew he was super motivated for the win and so was the whole team. We had some bad luck as a team with the crash when we lost Daniel Oss and also Floris Gerts and then a mechanical issue with Stefan Küng. But we had a super Greg and he did a great job like last year and he deserved this win. The team was strong and I am happy with the race. In cycling, one day you have luck and one day you have less but we won and Greg was really strong. When we start any race, we want to do the maximum and try to win. Greg will be able to enjoy the race after today but but we also have others on the team like Jempy Drucker and Stefan Küng who are really strong and I think everyone will have the chance to do something tomorrow at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Gent > Gent 198km
Top 3: 1. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), 2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), 3. Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 1. Greg Van Avermaet, 22. Michael Schaer, 34. Jempy Drucker.