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Van Avermaet Wins Baloise Belgium Tour

31. May 2015, Sankt Vith (BEL) — Road Team

Greg Van Avermaet celebrates after his narrow win over Tiesj Benoot. ©Tim De Waele/TDWsport

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet soloed to win the last stage of Baloise Belgium Tour Sunday and capture the overall title.

Van Avermaet narrowly held off a charging Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) after attacking Benoot and Egor Silin (Team Katusha) in the final kilometer of the 199.2-kilometer race.

"I had in mind to give the stage victory to Benoot," Van Avermaet said. "But that would be possible if you are with two. Then I could go for the GC (general classification) and he for the stage. But with a third, he was fast and not working and I did not want to give something to someone who was not working – and he even started attacking. I wanted to wait for my sprint and with one kilometer to go, I had in my head to just try and go. If I make a gap, it is hard to get me back. I gave it all to finish and it is nicer to win the stage and the GC. This gives a little extra to the victory."

Van Avermaet and the two others broke free from a rapidly dwindling group as the race split up severely in the last 20 kilometers. Hilly terrain, wet descents and a fierce pace set by BMC Racing Team were all contributing factors.

"We controlled the race all day long," Van Avermaet said. "We had Dylan Teuns and myself in the front. It was a big group and there where big groups going away and I was a little bit afraid to have everybody in and that we had to start riding directly from the beginning, so I moved also in. That was easier for the team. There were also some strong guys in the group, so it was good to be up there. I spent a little bit of energy there, but not too much."

Teuns finished fourth on the day and fourth overall as the BMC Racing Team took home the team title of the five-day race. Joining Van Avermaet and Teuns in the race were Rohan Dennis, Jempy Drucker, Campbell Flakemore (who withdrew on Stage 1), Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Manuel Senni.

After a pair of runner-up finishes here in 2088 and 2011, Van Avermaet won his first Baloise Belgium Tour title by 41 seconds over Benoot. Gaëtan Bille (Vérandas Willems Cycling Team) was third, at 56 seconds. Van Avermaet's victories add to his stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and are the BMC Racing Team's 11th and 12th victories of the season.

BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri said it was good to see Van Avermaet win again.

"He needs to win these races and Greg is a guy who was second and third so many times, so he finally got it," Sciandri said. "The team really rode together where you don't have to have the radios. The plan was good, not because of me, but because the guys had a really good vision and executed well."

In a strange development, the riders who were ahead of Van Avermaet on the classification heading into the final stage – Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) and double-stage winner Arnaud Démare (FDJ) – both dropped out during the final stage. Brändle complained of food poisoning while Démare's withdrawal was not immediately explained.

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