"We'll try to do both," replied Greg Van Avermaet when the current leader of this year's Tour de France was asked how his BMC squad were likely to handle both Van Avermaet's ambitions to keep the yellow jersey and possibly win stage 9, and how they'll look after team leader Richie Porte's hopes to be wearing that yellow jersey in Paris.
"Richie is the main goal – that's our main goal here at the Tour: to try to get Richie on the podium in Paris," said Van Avermaet, in fact falling short of saying the goal was for the Australian to stand on the top step – no doubt just a nuance lost in translation.
"Six guys on our team are going to take care of Richie," the 33-year-old Belgian explained, "and then I'm the only guy who's left. We'll try to keep Richie with me for as long as possible, and if there's then a moment when I have to follow someone in an attack or something, then I can follow, and leave those other six guys to take care of Richie."
Van Avermaet won the 2017 Paris-Roubaix, and is more than capable of winning the 156.5km ninth stage from Arras to Roubiax on Sunday, which takes in 15 sectors of cobbles, many of which feature in the infamous cobbled spring Classic.
When asked how different stage 9 is likely to be compared to the 'real' Roubaix, Van Avermaet affirmed that it would be different, but still as exciting.
"A lot of guys are better at one-day races, including me," he said. "I think I perform at, and sometimes over, my limit in one-day races, whereas I perhaps lose some of my capacities over time in a stage race. So I think the two types of races – a cobbled stage at the Tour and Paris-Roubiax – are probably incomparable: the peloton is different, and then the distances are not the same. But I think it's cool to have a stage like this in the Tour, and it's going to be spectacular."
At this point in the Tour, Van Averamet was also expected to give some kind of indication of where his future may lie, with his BMC team in danger of folding if manager Jim Ochowicz can't find a replacement sponsor in the near future.
"My future is that I'm going to ride in yellow on Sunday on the stage to Roubaix," Van Avermaet laughed, before turning serious. "But no – I can't say anything yet. I'll leave my management, and the manager of the team, to let the press know if there is something coming out, so for the moment I can't say anything. But hopefully I'll have some extra news in the next few days."
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