Van Avermaet Back on the Podium at Strade Bianche4. March 2017, Siena (ITA) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet battled it out in one of the toughest editions of Strade Bianche in recent times to take second place, for the second time in his career, behind solo winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).
The one-day race through the Tuscan countryside, which was elevated to UCIWorldTour for the first time in 2017, was a case of survival of the fittest with heavy rain and a big crash splitting the peloton mid-race.
Brent Bookwalter, Damiano Caruso, Jempy Drucker, Ben Hermans, Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato all crashed at different points, while up ahead Greg Van Avermaet and Stefan Küng made the first group of the split peloton, chasing a six-rider breakaway.
With 45km to go, the breakaway was in sight and as soon as the catch was made, more attacks followed. After bridging back to Van Avermaet after a mechanical problem, Küng put in a huge effort to reduce the gap to the leading riders.
Van Avermaet made the catch 28km out from the finish and found himself in the lead with just three other riders with 20km to go.
5km later, Kwiatkowski launched what would be the winning move and gained a 30-second advantage over Van Avermaet, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors).
Behind Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet never gave up and had the legs to outsprint Wellens and Stybar for second place to secure his second UCI WorldTour podium place this season.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was really hard as the race opened up so early because of the crash. Then Lotto-Soudal started riding immediately so it was a really hard day right from the middle of the race. I was in a bad position a few times and then I came to the front. In the end I have to be happy as so many things can happen and you’re just lucky that you survived everything.”
“The motorbikes were everywhere today, even when I was in the second group. It’s not Kwiatkowski’s fault, because if the motorbikes come in front of me I would do the same, but we need to do something about it and have some rules about the distance between riders and motorbikes. Kwiatkowski was strong, but he was no stronger than everyone else. He made the right move at the ride time and opened a gap. We tried to work, Wellens and Stybar and myself. We tried to do everything we could but we couldn’t close.”
“I felt good. The longer the race went, the better I felt. It was hard but I still had enough punch for the end so I’m happy I could take second and not fourth. A podium place is always nice.”
Max Sciandri, Sports Director:
“It was a super tough day. I think Greg Van Avermaet was the strongest out there today and it more came down to the tactics in the final part of the race. Kwiatkowski opened a gap very quickly, especially with the motorbikes in front of him, and by the time it was out to 30 seconds, it was too big to pull back. Greg and Wellens and Stybar were pulling but then they lost the momentum. Greg was strong so to get second place is still a good result.”
“The race threw everything at us. We had pretty much everyone but Stefan Küng and Greg crash, and a couple of mechanicals which added to the complications. It was really a shame when Stefan dropped from the front group with a mechanical problem, as he was really strong. He managed to get back, after a bike change, and put in a huge effort for Greg to bring the front group back. In the end it was a really tough day and we did the best we could with the cards we were dealt. We would have loved to win, and we know Greg could have won it, but it gives us confidence for the next races.”
Dr. Dario Spinelli, BMC Racing Team Doctor:
“Like a lot of teams we had a very unlucky day of crashes with six of our riders going down. Jempy Drucker and Ben Hermans had the hardest falls and a lot of the riders have various contusions. We will evaluate their conditions tonight and tomorrow morning to see how they recover, and make any decisions from there.”
Siena > Siena (175km)
Top 3: 1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), 2. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), 3. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).