Van Avermaet ready to start racing after offseason ankle injury

Olympic champion's aiming to build on BMC's early season success at Volta a Valenciana

BMC Racing Team is heading into the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana next week looking to keep the momentum that the team built with Richie Porte's win at the Tour Down Under rolling in Europe.

Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet will start his season at the five-day Spanish race that runs from February 1-5. He'll be joined in Spain by Tom Bohli, Alessandro De Marchi, Ben Hermans, Stefan Küng, Manuel Quinziato, Nicolas Roche and Michael Schär.

"All the riders in Australia got BMC Racing Team's season off to an impressive start," Van Avermaet said. "Everyone was racing incredibly well, and with Richie's overall win at the Santos Tour Down Under, we are all extra motivated to continue the team's success on European soil."

Director Valerio Piva said that BMC Racing Team is going into the race targeting stage wins, starting with the opening team time trial.

"From there we will take the race day by day," he said. "We have a diverse team, including riders such as Van Avermaet, who is already looking in great shape, as well as Ben Hermans and Nicolas Roche, who are both capable of being competitive on the general classification when we reach the crucial, steeper stages of the race."

For Van Avermaet, the race will provide an opportunity to test out his form at the beginning of the season after he had to overcome a blow to his off-season preparations, suffering a non-displaced, distal left fibula fracture during a mountain bike ride in November. The Belgian underwent a successful surgery just a few days later in an attempt to speed up the recovery process, but admitted he was trying to play catch up on missed training.

"Last year was a big year for me, so I am excited to get the 2017 season underway," he said. "I didn't have the perfect winter with my injury, but I feel ready and now is the point where I want to start racing and improve my fitness going into the Classics, which are important to me this year. This race is new for me, but we know the roads, so I am feeling relaxed and ready to try my luck and go for the stage victory where possible."

BMC Racing Team roster for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: Tom Bohli (SUI), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Ben Hermans (BEL), Stefan Küng (SUI), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)

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