Van Avermaet on the hunt for a second victory at 'The Hell of the North'

'I love Paris-Roubaix – it's a really special race for me'

CCC Team leader Greg Van Avermaet will line up in Compiègne, France, on Sunday morning, hoping to repeat his Paris-Roubaix victory of 2017, with a first Tour of Flanders title having continued to allude him in Belgium last weekend.

"I love Paris-Roubaix. Obviously, I make no secret of my desire to win the Tour of Flanders, but Paris-Roubaix is a really special race for me," Van Avermaet said on his team's website, just a couple of days out from the start of the race.

"It was even before I won it in 2017, and, of course, since then it holds a special place in my career as my first and, so far, only Monument win. I would love to win it again."

Van Avermaet arrived at Roubaix two years ago having won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the build-up to the race, as well as having taken second place at Flanders the week before.

This year, the 33-year-old Belgian has only one win to his name – stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana – but said that he's nevertheless happy with his season so far, which has included podium finishes at both the Omloop and what's now called the E3 BinckBank Classic.

"There is no race like Paris-Roubaix. Every one of those 29 cobbled sectors can make or break the race, and often it's completely out of your control," he continued. "My form is something I can control, and I'm really happy with how I have raced so far this season, and my sensations, so I'm looking forward to Sunday.

"Unlike at the Tour of Flanders, I don't think we'll see such a big group in the final, so I hope to race aggressively and be fighting for the win," he said.

His 10th place at Flanders was some way off what he'd hoped to achieve, but Van Avermaet will take an unchanged squad of CCC riders with him to Roubaix, which includes Michael Schär, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

"We saw a great team performance at the Tour of Flanders – the best so far this Classics season," added sports director Fabio Baldato. "For that reason, we're lining up on Sunday with the same team to support Greg, and I hope to see the same team effort that we saw last Sunday, in which case Greg will be well supported until the final.

"Greg has proved that he is one of the strongest in the Classics, and as the winner of the race in 2017, we know that it is a race suited to him," Baldato said.

"It would be a dream to win the race again. Of all the Classics, Paris-Roubaix is the most unpredictable, which can be both a good and bad thing. With more than 50 kilometres of cobbles, it is a race that only the strongest of riders can win, and we have a lot of confidence in Greg ahead of Sunday."

CCC Team for the 2019 Paris-Roubaix: Kamil Gradek, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Łukasz Wiśniowski

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