Greg Van Avermaet will be looking to take the form that saw him win Paris-Roubaix last weekend into the hilly Classics, as he leads BMC Racing at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race. Van Avermaet has not started the Dutch race in two years after missing last season’s edition following his crash at the Tour of Flanders.
In 2015, Van Avermaet finished third at Paris-Roubaix and would take fifth place in Amstel Gold the following week. This year, he beat Zdenek Stybar to win the Hell of the North, after a stellar Classics season. He goes into the race with sky-high confidence and isn’t put off by the change of course, which sees the final ascent of the Cauberg removed.
"My best result at Amstel Gold Race was in 2015 when I finished in fifth place. A lot has happened since then, a lot of big wins, and with my win at Paris-Roubaix, I'm definitely going in confident. I've said it many times; winning breeds confidence and when a leader is confident, the team is also confident," Van Avermaet explained.
"This year the finale has changed, without the final ascent of the Cauberg, and that may change the way the race is won. But, the strongest guys will always be in the finale, no matter what the parcours is. I have the legs, and I expect another tough race this Sunday. It's not an easy race to win, but I'm really looking forward to lining up at Amstel Gold Race again, especially having missed the race in 2016, and I hope to I'll stand on the podium for the first time in my career."
The team behind Van Avermaet has had to be rejigged somewhat due to Samuel Sanchez’s injury following a crash at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Replacing the injured Sanchez will be the Italian Daniel Oss, who is riding the race for the first time since 2013. Oss played a big part in Van Avermaet’s Roubaix win last weekend, going on the attack late in the race and setting the pace for a short while after he was caught.
Oss is the only rider to follow Van Avermaet from the cobbles of northern France to the hills of the Netherlands. Alessandro De Marchi and Ben Hermans provide some experience, while there is also plenty of youth in the line-up with Silvan Dillier, Floris Gerts, Dylan Teuns and Loïc Vliegen.
"We know that we have a champion in Greg Van Avermaet. He is having the best Classics season of his life, and we hope to continue this success on Sunday. At Paris-Roubaix, we saw how well we could work as a team to protect Greg and position him well in the finale. I hope to see this team spirit again at Amstel Gold Race," said directeur sportive Valerio Piva.
"We have a lot of strong climbers who are well-suited to the short, punchy climbs of Amstel Gold Race. There are 35 climbs on the menu and in a race like this anything can happen."
BMC Racing for the Amstel Gold Race: Alessandro De Marchi, Silvan Dillier, Floris Gerts, Ben Hermans, Daniel Oss, Dylan Teuns, Greg Van Avermaet, Loïc Vliegen.