Greg Van Avermaet says that CCC Team’s main priority at next year’s Tour de France will be to secure stage victories. The Belgian also believes that the lack of a general classification leader will allow the team to race more ‘attractively’.
With Polish shoe and bag manufacturer CCC taking over as title sponsor from BMC for the 2019 season, there has been an abundance of changes in the team's roster. At present, only seven of the 23 confirmed riders come from this year’s crop at BMC Racing.
Despite an offer sent to Geraint Thomas, the team won’t have a Grand Tour contender. Richie Porte has signed with Trek-Segafredo, while Rohan Dennis is joining Bahrain-Merida and Tejay van Garderen will ride for EF Education First. New signings include Dutch veteran Laurens ten Dam, Stefan Denifl, Serge Pauwels and sprinter Jakub Mareczko.
Van Avermaet said that he enjoyed riding for the team’s leader Richie Porte in the past but believes the new team can step up to the plate even without an overall contender at the Tour de France. He was part of the BMC Racing team that won the team time trial in this year's Tour de France, going on to defend the yellow jersey for seven days.
“I think that we'll be able to go more on the attack and being attractive in the race but it can also be good for me to have a different strategy,” Van Avermaet said in Paris following the unveiling of the 2019 Tour de France route.
“In the Classics, I have no problem with [being the leader] but in the Tour it is different, I cannot perform over three weeks like a GC guy. I think that it is important to win stages to support the team and to win by myself.
“I think that the other guys also have their chances to do something and hopefully they'll take them. I think that we are capable of doing good things. It’s completely different to what we’ve tried to do over the last four or five years, where we came with Richie going for the podium and trying to help him as much as possible. This is done now."
Eyeing more stage victories
The Tour de France presentation is an assault on the senses with stages flashing by in the blink of an eye. However several stages caught Van Avermaet’s eye. He sees stage 3 as an early opportunity to win as well as the visit to the Massif Central at the end of the first week. He is also understandably excited about the Grand Depart in Brussels, which is just an hour away from his hometown of Lokeren.
“I think that Epernay is a good one, then you have a few ones in the Massif Central where I have a chance if I’m in really good shape. I think I have to try and do it there,” he said.
“Then we have the start in Brussels, which is special for me as a Belgian rider. I’m really looking forward to it and you can make some predictions but you always have to take the Tour as it comes. It’s so stressful and so hectic at the beginning that sometimes it can get out of your hands, but hopefully, I can manage to do well and do something.”
The new-look CCC Team is built around Van Avermaet and his Classics ambitions. He has lost some key support in the likes of Stefan Kung and Jurgen Roelandts, but still has Francisco Ventoso and Michael Schar. The 2017 Le Samyn and 2014 Three Days of De Panne winner Guillaume Van Keirsbulck is also a new addition to the team. Six riders from the CCC-Sprandi Professional Continental team have also been added to the WorldTour roster.
“I think that in the Classics not too much has changed. We still have a really strong team for the Classics and I think that the goal will be the same, to win a few Classics with me and everyone is on the same page with this,” said Van Avermaet, adding that he’s excited by the prospect of developing the team.
“It gives me a lot of motivation because I have more responsibility to make this team work. There are some guys coming in who are really happy to reach the WorldTour level and are really motivated. It’s a different approach but I think it is a really nice feeling to try and make this work and hopefully I can be a part of it and doing my best.”