Van Avermaet hoping to find Classics form at Tour of Oman

CCC Team's Greg Van Avermaet heads to the 2019 Tour of Oman hoping that the race will again provide him with the form he needs to be successful at the spring Classics once he returns to Europe.

The Belgian has already tasted victory this season on stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and hopes to add to his tally – and score his 40th career victory – at the Tour of Oman, which starts on Saturday.

The six-day race will provide the 33-year-old with plenty of opportunities, and proved a happy hunting ground for Van Avermaet last year when he finally won a stage there – on his eighth appearance at the race – and took the race lead, only to lose it two days later on the stage to the climb of Green Mountain.

While he seems content that getting over the race's iconic climb with the best is beyond him, Van Avermaet would like to add another victory or two to his palmarès before he settle down to a March and April in Europe that will be packed with racing.

"I always enjoy racing in Oman, and I think it’s a really good race for me at this point in the season, with nice weather and conditions, and mostly short stages. I'm really happy with my form and how the team worked together in Valencia, so it'll be good to race again together this week," said Van Avermaet in a team press release.

"It's always nice to have a win early in the season, and I definitely hope to add another one in Oman. There are a few stages that suit me, so that's definitely the main goal in Oman, but it's also a good opportunity to prepare for the Classics. At this time of the year, it's important to have racing kilometres in the legs after a long off-season, so the Tour of Oman is the perfect race for that."

Van Avermaet can expect plenty of help from his team to try to win stages at the race, which runs from February 16-21, with many of his teammates in the Middle East likely to also support him during the spring Classics.

"Traditionally, for us, the Tour of Oman is the final preparation race ahead of the start of the Classics season and this year is no different," said sports director Valerio Piva.

"We'll be going there with a team ready and motivated to work for Greg. He's done this race for the last six years in a row, and, as we've seen before, it's a good race with some stages that really suit him, so the main objective will be to race for a stage win with Greg.

"We don't have anyone for the general classification," Piva admitted, "as, as always, this race will be decided on Green Mountain, and we're not taking a climber with us this year. However, this means that, as well as supporting Greg, everyone will have a chance to jump in different moves.

"The group we're going to Oman with is similar to the one we had at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, with only Nathan Van Hooydonck and Kamil Gradek coming in. We saw the team working well for Greg in Spain, and I was really happy with what I saw there.

"The guys are happy to be racing together, which is important, and I think overall we're in a good place as we start to finalise everything before the Classics," Piva continued. "We've already seen that Greg is in top shape, and the others looked good, too. Everyone is motivated to help Greg, and he trusts them, so that gives me confidence, and it's what we like to see going into the Classics."

CCC Team for the 2019 Tour of Oman: Kamil Gradek, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Łukasz Wiśniowski

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