Greg van Avermaet of Silence-Lotto will be one of the big favourites in the Spring Classics campaign. Despite good results last year he didn't ask others to ride for him, but this has changed over the winter. His season will start with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this Saturday.
His change of mind came during the Vuelta a España last year, he told Sportwereld. "In such a strong field to win a stage and the points jersey, that was something. In addition I also rode a good World Championships, despite the fact that I spent a lot of energy in Spain."
Last year, Van Avermaet didn't want to ask for the leader's role, despite having good results already. He finished third in the E3 Prijs and eighth in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. "I didn't have a great preparation and it wasn't up to me to say 'ride for me'."
But Van Avermaet feels comfortable now to lead his teammates. "I became stronger, especially through the three weeks in the Vuelta." The Belgian added that he noticed it in the winter. "When I went mountain biking with my friends, they had to let go earlier," he said with a smile. "But I also noticed in the team's training camps."
Van Avermaet said he deserves to be a captain. "I have the capacities to win." He doesn't expect clashes with his teammate Leif Hoste, either. "His results speak for itself. His only problem is that he needs to try and win solo." Van Avermaet didn't see a coexistence problem because the two are different types of racers. "It gives us two totally different options in the final. Look at Quick Step with Boonen and Devolder last year. They complemented each other perfectly."
Besides Van Avermaet and Hoste, Silence-Lotto also has Philippe Gilbert and Jürgen Roelandts. "It is true there are few teams as strong as ours." But he knew that it could be dangerous to have too many captains. "One rider has to attack and the others have to sacrifice themselves."
Van Avermaet emphasised that he has no problem supporting the others in certain races. "If Gilbert tells me in Milano-Sanremo that he has great legs, I will help him." But he made it clear that in certain races he expects to have the green light. There will be no repeat of last year's Ronde van Vlaanderen, where he rode in support of Leif Hoste. "In these [Spring Classics] races I am not the man anymore to wait for someone. I will now seek my own chances."