Van Avermaet Battles to Sixth After a Tough of Racing on Binck Bank Tour Stage 618. August 2018, Sittard-Geleen (NED) — Road Team
Greg Van Avermaet was in the thick of the action in the closing kilometers of Binck Bank Tour stage 6, racing aggressively in the closing kilometers of a tough day which, unfortunately, also saw Stefan Küng slip out of the top ten overall following a crash just as the final battle began to heat up.
With 20 short but sharp climbs to crest over the 182.2km course, it was no surprise to a fight to make the breakaway today with a series of opening attacks being pulled back by a determined peloton.
Finally, after just over 40km of racing, four riders were able to go clear and build up an advantage that quickly extended to over six minutes with the peloton, including all seven BMC Racing Team riders, siting up behind them.
After entering the finishing circuit with just over 100km to go, the leaders tackled two back to back climbs before starting the first of two 45.5km long laps, also featuring three other categorized ascents, with an advantage that had fallen to around 2’30”.
The peloton continued to drive a hard tempo behind the leaders and by the time the bell rang to mark the start of the final lap, the breakaway had been caught and the peloton had split with Van Avermaet, Küng and Jempy Drucker all working hard at the front of the first group.
Attacks were soon flying off the front of the leading group and at the 35km to go mark, Timo Roosen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Maciej Bodnar (BORA-hansgrohe) were dangling 30 seconds up the road.
The pace didn’t slow down behind them with the main bunch drawn out into single file along the road as riders, battling for the both the General Classification and the opportunity to go for the stage win, continued to attack.
However, with the chase settling down somewhat, the pair’s advantage was able to nudge the one-minute mark 10km later and this soon reignited the fire in the group behind with three riders bridging across quickly followed by Van Avermaet.
Fresh attacks soon followed with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) going solo only to be caught by a handful of riders in the final kilometers of the stage which was eventually won by Gregor Mühlberger (BORA-hansgrohe) ahead of Wellens and Zdeněk Štybar (Quick-Step Floors).
Van Avermaet dug deep and showed his trademark grit and determination as he launched himself off the front of the first chasing group, which had come back together behind the leaders, before sprinting to sixth on the line, just eight seconds behind Mühlberger.
Unfortunately, Küng, who started the day third overall, was involved in a crash with less than 20km to go and while he was able to continue racing after a bike change, he lost contact with the chasing group at the time and eventually slipped out of the top ten on the General Classification which is still being led by Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) with one stage to go.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was a stressful day for sure but in the end, it was really more of a leg day. I felt better than I was expecting and it was good to be up there with the best again. Sadly, Stefan crashed out of the General Classification group but I think it was important for us to try and keep the three guys that first bridged across close as the race isn’t over yet. Jempy did a good job for me until the bottom of the climb before I was able to jump across to the first group.”
“I had to recover a little bit after that and it was at that point that Wellens went so it was too hard for me to follow as I had just done my biggest effort of the race. Overall, I think it wasn’t a bad day for me. Of course, I didn’t win but I was able to be competitive and I think that’s a good sign for tomorrow when hopefully I will have the same legs as today. If that’s the case, I think something is possible and I will try to do my best.”
“I was feeling really good today and I was up there for the majority of the day. I’m not entirely sure what happened in the crash. We were on a downhill right-hand corner and I think my wheel slipped, it’s hard to explain, but suddenly I was on the ground and unfortunately my bike was broken so the race for me was over. Thankfully I am okay though but it was a pity to lose a chance like I had at this race especially when you are feeling good.”
Binck Bank Tour
Stage 6: Riemst > Sittard-Geleen, 182.2km
Top 3: 1. Gregor Mühlberger (BORA-hansgrohe) 2. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 3, Zdeněk Štybar (Quick-Step Floors)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 6. Greg Van Avermaet 42. Stefan Küng 44. Jempy Drucker