Olympic gold medalist Greg Van Avermaet has notched three wins so far this year, albeit two of them in team time trials at Volta a Valencia and the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, but has so far had a disappointing run in the spring one-day races. He was 50th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and 56th the next day in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. On the white-mud Tuscan roads of Strade Bianche the following week, Van Avermaet was 34th.
But Van Avermaet said he is confident in his form coming out of Tirreno-Adriatico, and with 10 editions in his palmares, including two top-10 finishes in 2011 and 2016, he's motivated to stand on the podium at the first Monument of the season.
"I feel pretty good after Tirreno-Adriatico," the 32-year-old Belgian said. "My shape is good and I'm looking forward to starting the one-day races which are my specialty."
Van Avermaet was fifth in the 2016 Milan-San Remo won by Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and ninth in the 2011 race won by Matthew Goss. He understands the wild nature of the final kilometres on the Poggio and on the finishing straight along the Via Roma in San Remo's city centre.
"I think Milan-San Remo is a lottery," he said. "But I am always motivated for a nice result there. It's a hard race, but I am always there in the right moves and in the final, so I hope I can achieve a good result this Saturday."
Van Avermaet will have a former winner backing him up on BMC's seven-rider roster.
"We are going in with a really experienced team with riders like Simon Gerrans, a former winner here, and Jürgen Roelandts," said team director Max Sciandri. "I think it is maybe one of the strongest teams we have ever had around Greg, and we will just have to play our cards in the right way on Saturday."
Joining Van Avermaet, Gerrans and Roelandts on the start line in Milan will be Damiano Caruso, second overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, Alberto Bettiol, Jempy Drucker and Michael Schär. All hands will be on deck to back Van Avermaet.
"Although we have Greg Van Avermaet as our leader, Milan-San Remo is not a race where we go in as the outright favorite team," Sciandri said. "However, some sprinters are out of the race so that could change the dynamics a little bit and as usual, we will be going there with the whole team around Greg. Greg has tested himself on a couple of occasions at Tirreno-Adriatico and his condition looks good. I think he is on a good and healthy build-up to Milan-San Remo."
BMC Racing for Milan-San Remo: Alberto Bettiol, Damiano Caruso, Jempy Drucker, Simon Gerrans, Jürgen Roelandts, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet
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