Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) believes that he is at the "ideal age" to add to his tally of Classic victories. The Belgian, who turns 33 in May, won Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2017, and is targeting Tour of Flanders victory in 2018.
Ahead of his 12th season as a professional, Van Avermaet told RTBF that he is not concerned by his advancing years, maintaining that he is better equipped than ever to add to his palmarès.
"I have more experience and that's the most important thing," Van Avermaet said. "For a Classics rider, this is an ideal age to win races. The experience I have accumulated is a real advantage. I think I'm better armed now than when I was 28 years old."
The Olympic champion enjoyed a sparkling 2017 campaign that culminated in overall victory in the WorldTour. The one disappointment of his Classics campaign came at the Tour of Flanders, where he won the sprint for second behind Philippe Gilbert after being brought down by world champion Peter Sagan's crash on the final ascent of the Kwaremont.
Van Avermaet has finished on the podium of the Tour of Flanders on three occasions during his career and a maiden victory at De Ronde will again be his major objective in 2018, alongside Strade Bianche and Amstel Gold Race.
"Winning those two races [the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche – ed.] will be the most important for me," Van Avermaet said. "In 2018, I want to win the events I haven't yet won in my career. In fact, there are even three – Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders, but also Amstel Gold Race."
Following the retirements of Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen in the past two years, Van Avermaet and triple world champion Sagan have marked themselves out as the men to beat on the cobbles in 2018, alongside Gilbert, who made a winning return to the pavé this year.
"It's clear that there are others too," Van Avermaet said. "I'm going to try to maintain my level and stay among the best riders. I would be really happy to preserve my rank among the world's best."
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