Van Avermaet confirmed for Tour of California with BMC

First race for Belgian after Tour of Flanders collarbone break

Greg Van Avermaet will make his return to racing this month at the Tour of California in what will be his first outing since breaking his collarbone at the Tour of Flanders in April. The BMC rider underwent surgery on his right-collarbone and has been building his form and condition for the second half of the season.

"It's been a long road to recovery since breaking my collarbone at the beginning of April so the Amgen Tour of California is a perfect race to use as a transition and build up my racing form again," Van Avermaet said. "At this stage it's not so much about getting a result but more getting the race days in the legs. I'm really looking forward to racing with my teammates again!" 

Runner-up in 2014, Rohan Dennis will lead the team's GC aspirations and will ride his first time trial in the colours of the Australian national champion in Folsom. Dennis, who won his last stage race on American soil at the USA Pro Challenge last August, climbed to victory on the Mount Diablo stage in 2014 but had to settle for second place behind Bradley Wiggins. While Wiggins is back with his WIGGINS team, the 2012 Tour de France champion is unlikely to challenge for the overall while Dennis is one of the favoured contenders. 

Jackson Stewart is the sports director for the race and is expecting a strong showing considering the depth of talent amongst the eight riders.

"We're taking a really strong team to the Amgen Tour of California so we are going in with both General Classification and stage win ambitions. There's not one rider on the team who isn't capable of getting a good result and for Brent Bookwalter and Taylor Phinney, it's one of the few occasions they can race on home soil too, which is extra motivation. Of course it's great to see Greg back racing too."

Phinney makes his return to the 2.HC race, having missed the 2015 edition through injury, and will be aiming to add to his 2014 solo stage win. Brent Bookwalter is the second American rider on the teams roster. 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and recent stage winner at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Sammy Sánchez comes to race in form after his fourth place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and sixth at La Flèche Wallonne.

Having finished top-ten on four stages last year, Jempy Drucker will be looking for his first win of the season as the designated sprinter for the race. Swiss duo Michael Schär and Danilo Wyss complete the squad.

BMC Racing for 2016 Tour of California: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Rohan Dennis (Aus), Jempy Drucker (Lux), Taylor Phinney (USA), Samuel Sánchez (Esp), Michael Schär (Sui), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) and Danilo Wyss (Sui).

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