With Philippe Gilbert ruled out of the Tour de France due to a fractured tibia, BMC's sporting manager Allan Peiper explained to Sporza that the team may not have a rider for the first week of the race as a result. Greg Van Avermaet's girlfriend is expected to give birth to their first child at the end of July and is unsure of his participation in the race as a result.
"He has already shown that his condition is very good. He may be our best man in the first ten days, but we must be sure is that he stays in the Tour," Peiper said of Van Avermaet's participation. "Greg would like to ride the Tour, but he also wants to be home for the baby," says Peiper. "We must of course know how long it is, as the team time trial [stage 10] will be very important for the standings. But Greg is a key man for the team."
Van Avermaet rode the Tour last year for the second time in his career, notching three top-10 finishes including second place on stage 2.
Gilbert had complained of the uncertainty hanging over his potential presence in BMC's plans for July before Tuesday's announcement of his injury, although Peiper told Sporza that the knee pain had been an ongoing concern since the Ardennes and rest is the best option.
"Philippe Gilbert had been complaining of knee pain since La Flèche Wallonne and it's never actually passed. Not even during the Giro, in which he managed to win two stages," he said. "If you keep having pain, you have to make a choice. Philippe has a crack and the ligaments are somewhat compromised. He must rest so that his knee is completely healed. That decision was taken yesterday in consultation with the team management. He can now look forward to the rest of the season with the World Championships and Il Lombardia.
"It's unfortunate for him, but it's the right decision. We can't take an inured rider to the Tour. However, Philippe had been our main rider with certain stages suited to his strengths, including the stage finish at the Mur de Huy.
BMC's team for July is built around the GC aspirations of Tejay van Garderen who has twice finished fifth at the race and was the best young rider in 2012. Van Garderen was runner-up at the Critérium du Dauphiné, wearing the leader's jersey on two occasions, to confirm his condition ahead of July. Peiper added that the final place in the team may therefore opt for a climbing domestique rather than a rider for the first week.
"Our Tour selection is largely fixed, there should only be a few places to fill. The strong performance of Tejay van Garderen, we tend to opt for an extra man to help Tejay. We still have some time to think about it," he added.
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