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Van Avermaet looking forward to taking on Sagan in the Spring Classics

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Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet shows off his new colours

Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet shows off his new colours
(Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Greg Van Avermaet at the 25th Kristallen Fiets 2016

Greg Van Avermaet at the 25th Kristallen Fiets 2016
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) gets the better of Peter Sagan, reversing the GP Quebec result from Friday

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) gets the better of Peter Sagan, reversing the GP Quebec result from Friday
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Everything Greg Van Avermaet touches turns to gold

Everything Greg Van Avermaet touches turns to gold
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

A broken ankle has set Greg Van Avermaet back in his preparations for 2017, but the BMC rider still fells strong enough to go up against Peter Sagan in the upcoming Classics season.

The Olympic champion broke his ankle in mid-November whilst mountain biking, and underwent successful surgery. This cost him four weeks of training, he told sporza.be, and he only stopped using his crutches a few days before Christmas.

"I think I could have done it a week earlier, but I didn’t want to take any risks," he said. "The last few weeks I'm full in training. I feel that the condition is coming fast. This season I was forced to learn what it is to start later and rest more. How I address this next winter depends on how I do this spring.”

One difference for the Belgian in the Classics this year is that he will be the team’s sole leader, having previously shared duties with Philippe Gilbert. Not that this was a problem, he said. “The last two or three years we rode well together.

"Okay, it was not always easy to stand at the start with two winners and outspoken leaders. The only advantage will be that in the Amstel Gold Race I can now ride for myself and must not sacrifice myself for others.

"My biggest competitor is Sagan, but I am certainly not afraid of him. I beat him a few times and he beat me too. I'm just as strong [as he is]. If we are together at a race it is fifty-fifty. But I gladly race against him. Like me, he rides open and attacking "

Other competitors include “[Alexander] Kristoff, [Tom] Boonen and [John] Degenkolb. Fast men who have a Classics victory in their legs. From the other Belgians I expect especially [Sep] Vanmarcke and [Tiesj] Benoot."