Van Avermaet Third After a Tough Day of Racing on Binck Bank Tour Stage 511. August 2017, Sittard-Geleen (NED) — Road Team
Binck Bank Tour Stage 5 provided an action packed day of racing for BMC Racing Team and the peloton with Greg Van Avermaet sprinting to third on the line and an explosive finale forcing a shake up of the General Classification.
With 19 climbs to crest over the 167.3km course, it was no surprise to see riders battling to get into the breakaway with attack after attack being pulled back by the peloton over the opening hour of racing.
Finally, after 35km, seven riders were able to go clear and build up an advantage over the rest of the field which had reached more than three minutes as they went over the top of the iconic Cauberg climb and continued to grow before peaking at 4’30” with 100km of racing still to come.
With Küng, the race leader at the start of the day, in its ranks, BMC Racing Team maintained a constant presence at the front of the main bunch, before the chase began to heat up on the first of two 38.8km laps, which included five short but sharp climbs.
As the leaders heard the bell ring, there was just over one minute separating them from the main bunch which, as a result of the fierce pace, was made up of only around 60 riders, including Küng, Greg Van Avermaet, Michael Schär, Loïc Vliegen and Nathan Van Hooydonck.
As the main bunch crossed the finish line, a perfect display of teamwork saw Schär give Küng a back wheel to allow him to begin the task of pulling himself back into the main bunch. At the same time, Van Hooydonck dropped back to set the pace at the front of the second group and with help from Jempy Drucker and Manuel Quinziato, the peloton was pulled back together.
With 20km to go, and the gap at less than 20 seconds, a series of attacks off the front of the regrouped peloton saw 11 riders bridge across to the two remaining leaders as the race exploded behind them with Küng sitting in the second group on the road.
Heading towards the 5km to go mark, Van Avermaet was able to find the strength to bridge across to the front of the race and with the leading group now around 15 riders strong it became clear that the stage would come down to a battle between those sitting out in front.
The attacks continued, but the group was able to close every attempt down before Lars Boom (Team Lotto-NL Jumbo) made a decisive and ultimately winning move going under the flamme rouge and was able to hold off the chase to take the day’s honors and move into the leader’s jersey.
Behind him, Van Avermaet dug deep in the closing meters, launching his sprint early before taking a hard fought third on the line and moving up into sixth on the General Classification, 27 seconds behind Boom.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was hectic the whole day. I was always pretty well positioned. When Team Sunweb went faster, we had some bad luck with Stefan Küng and we lost a lot of guys there to bring him back. From there on, it was not such a good race for us anymore. I wasn’t in a good position when the group went and then I bridged with Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT) and Philippe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) luckily because that was the moment when we really had to go and the GC could be decided there. So I was happy that I could make it. I had super good legs but I was too far so it was not the perfect moment. I didn’t win, but in the end, I was in the first group so I took some seconds back."
“It was a really crazy parcours, and so it was a fight to stay in position all day. The guys did a great job controlling the race, and we were up there when the bunch split. Unfortunately, I had a flat tire as we crossed the finish line for the last time and some other teams took advantage of that and started riding really hard. Thankfully, I still had some really strong guys, and they brought me back. They did an amazing job. They gave everything and gave me a lot of motivation.”
“We got back around 3km before the race became really nervous, and I tried to move up but I wasn't in a good position, and I could feel the effort in my legs. We kept fighting though and luckily Greg Van Avermaet was strong and could move to the first group because otherwise it would have all been for nothing. I am disappointed to let the guys down when I couldn’t follow, but once the first ten guys went, there was nowhere to go with riders dropping back.”
“We had really bad luck with Stefan Küng getting a flat tire, and at this moment the race was split in two. Although Michael Schär gave him his wheel, Stefan was caught by the second chase group so Nathan Van Hooydonck dropped back, and all the guys worked hard to close the gap with Lotto - Soudal and Team Sunweb working hard in front. We were able to bring Stefan back around 15km from the finish, a crucial point of the race, and we also had Greg Van Avermaet and Loïc Vliegen in the first group. When the leaders attacked, there was a moment when Greg was not in there, but he reacted quickly and eventually made it across to finish third, and I am happy with his performance.”
“For the team, it is a pity we lost the jersey but tomorrow is another day, and we still have opportunities to do something. We had a lot of work to do today, and we saw great teamwork. You can go from being in a good situation to a bad one in an instant but we have a team of lions here, and they worked hard and changed our luck around. We are still in a good position with Greg sitting sixth on the GC, and we will see what happens over the next two days.”
Binck Bank Tour
Stage 5: Sittard-Geleen > Sittard-Geleen, 167.3km
Top 3: 1. Lars Boom (Team Lotto-NLJumbo) 2. Peter Sagan (Bora - hansgrohe) 3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 3. Greg Van Avermaet 41. Stefan Küng 49. Loïc Vliegen
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.