CCC Team's Greg Van Avermaet will head to the E3 BinckBank Classic on Friday determined to repeat the win he took there in 2017, before turning his attention to Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem – which he also won two years ago.
Van Avermaet's irresistible 2017 spring Classics season began with victory at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and, via those successes at the E3 and Gent, culminated in the Belgian taking the win at Paris-Roubaix.
After a less successful 2018, Van Avermaet is now raring to go on home soil – or home cobbles – at the northern spring Classics.
"It's always exciting to get to this point in the season: the final races before the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he said on the CCC Team website.
"I feel good and am confident in the shape I have after Italy," he continued, referring to his March block of racing, where he took sixth at Strade Bianche, second place on a stage and 16th overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, and 42nd at Milan-San Remo last weekend.
"It was frustrating to have a few near misses, so I'm going to channel that frustration into these Classics and hope to be back on the podium," said Van Avermaet.
"As a team, we've raced the last two months together, and I think we're working well. All of the guys have a lot of experience on the cobbles and know the roads, so I'm confident that we'll race aggressively.
"The key to success at the Classics is a combination of form and luck. I know I have the form, so I can't wait to get back to the start line on home soil," he said.
CCC Team sports director Fabio Baldato echoed that having had a core group of Classics riders around Van Avermaet so far this season has been key, and that their continued presence at the E3 and Gent-Wevelgem will mean that their team leader will be in with a great chance at both races.
"We know that Greg is in good shape, and he will naturally be our leader at the E3," said Baldato. "The key to the Classics is to be aggressive and have multiple options, so our riders will be protecting Greg and setting him up as best they can for the finale.
"The E3 BinckBank Classic is typically a 'mini Tour of Flanders', and is a race that suits Greg's strengths. He won it in 2017, and was on the podium last year [third in 2018], so we hope to see him back up there again on Friday."
Valerio Piva will be CCC's lead directeur sportif for Sunday's race, and is keen for Van Avermaet to race in the same way that netted him the win there two years ago.
"Gent-Wevelgem is typically more of a sprinters' Classic, and we often see a larger group of 30 or 40 riders going for a bunch sprint," said Piva. "However, as we saw when Greg won in 2017, anything can happen – especially when no one takes responsibility for chasing any late attacks on the flat run into the finish.
"Greg has always been up there and in the right moves at Gent-Wevelgem and, with his current shape, it should be no different on Sunday," he said.
CCC Team for the 2019 E3 BinckBank Classic [March 29]: Kamil Gradek, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Lukasz Wisniowski
CCC Team for the 2019 Gent-Wevelgem [March 31]: Pawel Bernas, Szymon Sajnok, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Gijs Van Hoecke, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Lukasz Wisniowski