Belgian claims opening stage in Utah
Inspired by teammate Taylor Phinney's attack last week at the Tour of Poland, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) took control of the final kilometre of the opening stage of the Tour of Utah on Tuesday, for this third win in as many weeks.
Van Avermaet won two stages of the Tour de Wallonie late last month en route to overall victory, a sure sign of his pre-Utah form. His latest win however, came as a surprise for the 28-year-old Belgian who had decided that he wouldn't have the speed to hold off some of the sprinters in the peloton.
"I thought guys like [Michael] Matthews could beat me," Van Avermaet explained. "So I tried to do it differently and went in the last kilometer. It was already hard and I attacked. I came into the last corner with a gap and then I was just pedaling to finish and hoping they wouldn't come over. I'm happy that I won."
BMC has been on a roll following a largely underwhelming Tour de France campaign. Along with Van Avermaet's success at Wallonie, the team claimed three of the seven stages in Poland, with former World Champion Thor Hushovd appearing on the top step of the podium twice either side of Phinney's win.
While his winning move was planned, Van Avermaet admitted that such a tactic is easier said than done.
"You can have the plan, but sometimes it's hard to work out," he said. "But the team was riding well on the circuits and it worked out in the last kilometer."
Van Avermaet holds a four-second lead over Matthews heading into Wednesday's second stage courtesy of the sprint bonus on the line however he remains doubtful of repeating his overall win at Wallonie.
"It's going to be hard for me to take the GC," he said. "We have a couple of good guys like Steve Cummings and Yannick Eijssen, who are going really good uphill. It's always good, though, to start a stage race with a victory. Hopefully, we can get some other ones."