Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to eighth place on stage 2 at the Tour de Suisse, following BMC Racing's opening stage victory in the team time trial. The Belgian now sits second in the general classification, with teammate Stefan Küng still in yellow.
On paper stage 2 looked to be one of the easier opportunities for the rich depth of sprinters at the race, but the last lap of four in Frauenfeld was torn to pieces by Bora-Hansgrohe on the final climb.
Potential stage winners Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Magnus Cort (Astana Pro Team) were all dropped in the late accelerations but Van Avermaet managed to stay on for the final selection.
"They said it was the easiest day of Tour de Suisse so I'm wondering what the other days are going to be like, [it was] a pretty hard day," he told Cyclingnews.
"Bora-Hansgrohe made the last climb super fast. I tried to stay up there for as long as possible and then in the sprint I was in the mix to try to do a result for the team but I think I went to the front too early and they came with so much speed from the back. I tried to be up there but it wasn't possible to win."
The chaotic finale was a culmination of attacks throughout the day, and BMC's strong team performance on stage 1 was repeated.
"We tried to put someone in every attack, I think even Richie [Porte] tried a few times to get himself in.
"I tried to save myself as well as I could for the sprint, but then we had to close the gap to the 12 guys which wasn't the best situation. We know it's hard in this situation and the breakaway can stay away.
"Everything went well though I think, we still have Stefan [Küng] in yellow and we have Tejay [Van Garderen] and Richie for the GC. So far, so good."
Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse could provide another opportunity for Van Avermaet, with the three-lap finale in Gasingen sharing a similar profile to the Vista Chinesa circuit in Rio de Janeiro where the Belgian became Olympic road race champion in 2016.
Van Avermaet's one-day racing calibre cannot be questioned, nor his ability to be with the fastest in the world for flat bunch sprints.
At the age of 33, Van Avermaet wants to continue to develop, and taking his sprinting ability to the next level by beating the likes of Peter Sagan and Fernando Gaviria could be on the agenda for the Belgian.
"For a long time, I've tried to win a flat sprint like this because in other [types of] races I have to sprint for victory, so that's why I try to be up there.
"I will try to do it a little bit more in the future but I know they're super hard to win. I've made the top-ten a few times and maybe top-five but it will be super hard to beat the really fast guys."
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