Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) has ridden consistently well so far through the Spring Classics, but the two-time winner at Omloop Het Niewsblad, 2017 Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke has come up empty so far in 2019 with just one chance remaining to put a check in the win column at a Classic.
The 33-year-old Belgian will line up Sunday for Amstel Gold Race with a strong squad backing him and a high motivation to improve on his Amstel-best of fifth in 2015.
"Amstel Gold Race is my last chance to get a good result this spring," he said. "I was really disappointed after Paris-Roubaix, knowing that I had the legs for a better result so, I am motivated to line up at Amstel Gold Race and turn things around. I have had good legs throughout the classics, and although I am missing a big result, I think I have consistency showed that my form is good. It would be nice to end this first part of the season with a good result on Sunday."
Van Avermaet has been at the head of nearly every Spring Classic when things counted, but he's just missed the podium's top step. He finished second in Omloop after Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) slipped away from a select group near the end of the 200km race. Van Avermaet was sixth in Strade Bianche after eventual winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), escaped near the end of the Italian Classic with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
At the newly minted E3 BinckBank Classic, Van Avermaet was third in a five-up sprint behind Stybar and Van Aert. He finished 20th in the reduced-bunch sprint won by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) at the end of Gent-Wevelgem, and he was 10th in a large group that finished 17 seconds behind Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol.
Van Avermaet was once again an animator at Paris-Roubaix, but he missed the move that saw first-time winner Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Nils Politt (Katuasha-Alpecin) ride into the velodrome for a two-up sprint.
"Amstel Gold Race is a different kind of race to the cobbled classics, of course, but out of all of the Ardennes Classics, it is the one that suits me the best," said Van Avermaet, who finished 14th in Amstel last year. "I think we have a good team with guys like Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, and Serge Pauwels able to climb well and go on the attack or cover moves, which gives us options. Unlike the cobbled Classics, I don’t think there is any pressure on us to control the race, so we will see how the race develops and hopefully be able to race aggressively."
Sports Director Valerio Piva said that after the cobbled Classics, CCC Team have brought in riders who are more suited to the short, steep climbs of the Ardennes. De Marchi, Bevin, Pauwels and Koch come from stage races in Spain, while Michael Schär and Łukasz Wiśniowski have lined up with Van Avermaet at all the cobbled Classics.
"We have a mix of experience and riders set to make their debut," Piva said.
"The course is exactly the same as last year's edition, so Greg knows it well, and the riders lining up for the first time will have the chance to see the course on Friday. Although Greg is our main leader, I think we have different cards to play with riders like Alessandro De Marchi motivated and in good shape. Hopefully, we will have a few riders with Greg in the finale and see how things play out."
CCC Team for Amstel Gold: Patrick Bevin, Alessandro De Marchi, Jonas Koch, Serge Pauwels, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Łukasz Wiśniowski
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