After two stage wins and overall victory at the Tour de Wallonie in late July, Van Avermaet claimed the opening stage of the Tour of Utah and then put in a series of consistent performances in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
While defending champion Philippe Gilbert is set to lead the Belgian team at the Worlds in Florence, he is without a victory in the rainbow jersey, and Van Avermaet believes that he can have his own say in Tuscany.
“I went last year to reconnoitre the the world championships course. It’s a sort of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and men like [Vincenzo] Nibali and [Joaquim] Rodriguez are the top favourites. I’ll have to be at my best but I believe in that,” Van Avermaet told Het Laatste Nieuws. “I see that I can play a free role. Belgium doesn’t need to carry the race but I think I should be able to play my part.”
Van Avermaet was BMC’s most consistent performer in the spring classics, placing 3rd at Gent-Wevelgem, 7th at the Tour of Flanders and 4th at Paris-Roubaix, but as was the case throughout 2012, he was frustrated to fall short of landing a victory. The Tour de Wallonie was something of a liberation, however, and Van Avermaet enters the final weeks of the season brimming with confidence.
“I’m proud of my performances [during the spring] but it bothered me that I couldn’t win. That worked out this summer, though, and now I feel free and confident. I’m more relaxed now, I’m making decisions quicker and I’m more daring in races,” said Van Avermaet, who topped up his form with a stint of training and racing at altitude during in the United States in August.
Van Avermaet’s next race will be the GP Ouest France on Sunday, and he will then travel back across the Atlantic to take part in the GP de Montréal and the GP de Québec, ahead of the Worlds road race on September 29.
“After four tough weeks, my legs are still very good, and soon I should be able to get the benefit from my altitude training in the Rocky Mountains,” he said. “I want to reap the benefits of the work that I’ve done.”
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