The Belgian has already raced for 27 days, including all the major one-day and cobbled Classics. He will join forces with BMC’s Ardennes specialists Dylan Teuns, Simon Gerrans and Damiano Caruso as the US-registered WorldTour team tries to win its first Classic of 2018. Also in the seven-rider line-up fro Amstel Gold Race are Alberto Bettiol, Alessandro de Marchi and Michael Schär.
Van Avermaet's only win of 2018 came on stage 3 of the Tour of Oman. He finished fourth at Paris-Roubaix, fifth at the Tour of Flanders and third at E3 Harelbeke but struggled to match Quick-Step Floor’s combined strength or Peter Sagan’s creative racing.
Van Avermaet finished fifth in the 2015 Amstel Gold race and the new finale on narrow roads, but without the Cauberg climb, could help him be part of the decisive move. He will face Classics rivals Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) who won Amstel Gold in 2017, Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac), Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Sagan on Sunday. Other big name contenders include Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb).
“Amstel Gold Race will be the last spring classic for me this year. I am always motivated to do well at the race because I like the parcours with the short climbs. We have a strong line up and I’m looking forward to racing on Sunday,” Van Avermaet said when BMC named its line-up.
Directeur sportif Valerio Piva confirmed Van Avermaet as team leader but indicated BMC have several options.
“Of course, we are lining up to win the race. Greg Van Avermaet is our leader but we also have Dylan Teuns who is in great shape and riders like Damiano Caruso, Simon Gerrans, and Alessandro De Marchi coming out of Vuelta al Pais Vasco in good shape. Gerrans has been on the podium on three occasions and we have riders who have lined up many times, so we have a lot of experience at Amstel Gold Race,” Piva explained.
“Traditionally, the race is decided in the last 50km and this year the parcours has changed and the final has a different, more narrow approach. We have a strong and motivated team around Greg and our main goal will be to put him on the podium, but we have multiple cards to play on Sunday which gives us confidence going into the race.”
Teuns finished seventh in Wednesday’s De Brabantse Pijl. He won the Tour de Pologne and the Arctic Race of Norway in 2017 as he continued to develop and improve. He was sixth overall at this year’s Paris-Nice and fourth on the testing final stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
"I am feeling excited. I have been preparing for this block of racing for a long time and I am looking forward to the next ten days or so,” he said.
“It all starts with Amstel Gold Race and like the others, this is a race which should suit me and my strengths well. I think I can go into Sunday's race feeling confident in my shape and I am definitely motivated to do a good job for myself and for the team.”
BMC Racing for the Amstel Gold Race: Rider Roster: Alberto Bettiol, Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Gerrans, Michael Schär, Dylan Teuns and Greg Van Avermaet.