Van Avermaet ready for any eventuality in Milan-San Remo finale

“I feel I’m fast in a sprint and especially after a hard race”

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of Milan-San Remo from 8am GMT on Saturday, March 19.

Greg Van Avermaet refused to reveal BMC’s tactics for Milan-San Remo but said he is ready to join an attack or wait for the sprint, insisting the best strategy for La Classicissima is to race on instinct.

“There are 1000 different scenarios for Milan-San Remo. Everyone has a different strategy. You can prepare your move but I think you’ve also got to wait for the race,” the Belgian said in a final BMC press conference, flanked by team manager Jim Ochowicz and directeur sportif Valerio Piva.

“I like to make decisions in the race and so will see how it goes on Cipressa and Poggio. Milan-San Remo is always a fast race and so often you can’t turn back a decision you make. You have to feel the race and make the right decision at right moment.”

Van Avermaet will trust his intuition and tactical understanding to judge whether to go with any attacks or keep his powder dry.

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“There are always a lot of strong riders, so you have to stay awake, and see which teams have riders in number and how the race develops. As we saw at the end of the sixth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, if a group goes and it’s a strong group, it can be hard to pull it back. You’ve got to make your own decision on if it’s a good move. I’ve tried attack in different places and you also need be a little lucky. You can talk so much about attacking on the Cipressa or the Poggio but at the end of the day, only the winner ever has the right plan. It’s so hard to win Milan-San Remo.

“I feel I’m fast in a sprint and especially after a hard race, so if I’m in a good position and things work out, I know can beat the fast guys too. I have to be confident that I can sprint for victory on the Via Roma.”

Taking on the sprinters

Despite that optimism, Van Avermaet fears the sprinters and is unlikely to want to wait to take them on in the Via Roma.

“Matthews is fast. He’s got a kick like McEwen had,” Van Avermaet explained. “He can come out at the right moment and so he can win. Kristoff is more of power sprinter, so it depends on his energy in the finale.”

He also refused to rule out Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) after seeing in action at Tirreno-Adriatico but warned about expecting too much from the 21-year-old Colombian.

“Gaviria has a chance for sure, he could win,” he said. “We’ll have to see how he reacts after 300km but for sure he’s a big talent, he’s fast and has a good engine but he’s very young too. I think Classics are also about experience and it takes time to win the big Classics. I’ve been trying for ten years.

Cancellara named Van Avermaet as his favourite for victory, suggesting he deserves six stars in any list of contenders. Van Avermaet knows that the Trek-Segafredo rider is simply playing mind games and passing on the responsibility for controlling the race. He was happy to return the title of favourite.

“Cancellara is riding well and I think he’s the big favourite for tomorrow,” Van Avermaet responded. “He’s shown he’s on form; I think he’s the strongest in the peloton and the rider to beat. Fabian is not the fastest but he wins the Classics with his power. He can win Milan-San Remo that way. Of course it’s the legs that decide thing. You can win 1,000 races before, but its tomorrow that counts."

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