Van Avermaet gives the impression that he is a rider whose time has come. The breadth of his talent was never in dispute – he spent much of the last decade achieving high placings in just about every major one-day race on the calendar. Winning, however, was a different matter. But his wins in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Olympic road race in 2016 were the harbingers of much more success this year. He took a repeat win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but followed up with a much more impressive sequence – wins in E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. "It's not easy. It still hurts," he told us "But it's been different this year. It is easier. I've been surprised winning could be that easy."
We spent a morning at Van Avermaet's house in Belgium while he explained how his career has taken off in the last two seasons, and talked about his next target, the obvious missing link from his spring palmarès. In the Tour of Flanders, he was taken off by Peter Sagan, who crashed on the Oude Kwaremont in pursuit of Philippe Gilbert, and still had enough left to come second. But that leaves unfinished business for 2018, which he is keen to address. "Flanders is the only thing. Maybe Strade Bianche. The two races I was second in this spring, I would like to win."
Procycling also takes a look at Alejandro Valverde's extraordinary spring. If Van Avermaet dominated the cobbles, Valverde was the man of the hilly Classics and early-season stage races. He won Flèche Wallonne for the fifth time, Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the fourth, and also took victories in the Tours of Catalonia and the Basque Country. We interviewed a set of experts, team-mates, Movistar management, ex-riders and the man himself to build up a 360-degree look at his season, arguably the most successful of his long career before he crashed out of the Tour de France.
Also in the magazine: in-depth analysis of the year in sprinting – did 2017 see a shift to a scenario in which there was no one dominant sprinter? We've interviewed Jakob Fuglsang about his breakthrough win at the Critérium du Dauphiné and how it has affected his ambitions for the years to come. Photographer Kristof Ramon shares his best pictures of the Tour de France.
We looked at Sunweb's amazing collection of jerseys – in winning pink at the Giro and green and polka dot at the Tour, they won three of cycling's five most iconic jerseys – and interviewed an interesting set of historical antecedents to their 2017 winners.
Joop Zoetemelk, the last Dutch rider to win a grand tour before Tom Dumoulin, shares his opinions on the younger rider; Australian 2003 green jersey winner Baden Cooke talks about Michael Matthews; multiple Tour King of the Mountains Richard Virenque tells us about Warren Barguil. Cycling journalist Richard Abraham gives his view on Chris Froome's incredible year. And finally we carry eyewitness accounts from the five wins which underpinned Anna van der Breggen's WWT victory – the Amstel-Flèche-Liège trio, Tour of California and Giro d'Italia Femminile.
All this, plus a step-by-step review of the year, news, analysis, interviews, incredible photography and the latest gear, beautifully presented.
Procycling's review of the year, your indispensable guide to 2017's races, is now available in UK newsagents. Subscribe at here.
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