Van Avermaet Ready to Repeat Classics Success at the Opening Weekend21. February 2018, Santa Rosa, California (USA) — Road Team
Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet returns to the start line of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this Saturday, 24 February, confident in his form ahead of the opening weekend.
Sports Director Valerio Piva said the team is motivated for the start of the Classics season after a good start to the year.
“With Greg Van Avermaet in the team we have a clear leader and a strong captain for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Greg is coming in with good condition as we saw in Oman and he is definitely motivated to win again. We have a very experienced team around Greg and have multiple cards to play depending on the evolution of the race. Jürgen Roelandts showed he is in good condition at the Volta ao Algarve and he will also be a protected rider. We expect Jürgen to be there with Greg in the finale and riders like Stefan Küng and Jempy Drucker can jump in dangerous moves,” Piva explained.
“The course has changed this year and the final part of the race is harder than in previous editions and more suited to Greg. With the Muur and the Bosberg in the final 20km, I think it will be more selective and we will see more attacking. With the defending champion on our team, everyone will be looking at us to control the race and we are not afraid to take responsibility.”
On Sunday, the focus turns to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne which typically favors a bunch sprint Sports Director Klaas Lodewyck said.
“Greg will also be our leader for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and although it is more of a sprinter’s race, he has performed well in the past. Alberto Bettiol and Jürgen Roelandts are also lining up and both have showed good form in recent races which gives us different options depending on the situation. Although Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne often finishes in a bunch sprint, the past two years have seen small groups go to the finish so anything can happen and we will be ready to adapt as the race progresses. With the team we have, I think we can finish the weekend with a good result,” Lodewyck said.
Van Avermaet, who won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2016 and 2017, is ready to begin the Classics season on home soil.
“I’m really happy that we are now at my first goal of the season and I’m really well prepared. Everything went well up until now so I’m looking forward to trying to win again. The shape is there so I just have to have some luck with the race situation. If everything goes well then I will be there in the finale and hopefully I can win. It’s a nice finish. I also like the one before because I won on it twice but this year it will be harder. It’s the old Tour of Flanders final so it will be cool to race there and putting the Muur and the Bosberg back in a Classic is always a good idea,” Van Avermaet said.
“First of all, my focus is always on Saturday and then Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is always the re-match of the day before. It’s not as hard as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and it’s more of a sprinter’s race but we will see how everything goes first on Saturday. I’m motivated for a good result at both races.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – 24 February
Rider Roster: Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – 25 February
Rider Roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Tom Bohli (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Valerio Piva (ITA).