Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was an attacking force in last weekend's Cyclassics Hamburg, aiming to upset the sprinters, and he'll be out for more of the same this coming weekend at the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France in Plouay.
The two one-day WorldTour outings on successive weekends mark back-to-back opportunities for sprinters, though there's always the chance that the races may split under the impetus of those who don't possess the fastest finish.
For both camps, there's the allure of WorldTour points. Van Avermaet has sat at the top of the rankings since late March, and closing it out in the last part of the season has become a significant focus for the Olympic champion.
At Hamburg, he enjoyed spells in groups off the front in the closing stages, but there was enough strength and cooperation among the sprinters' teams to bring the race back together for a bunch kick, with Van Avermaet finishing 32nd.
"I was feeling good last weekend in Hamburg, and the whole team did a great job to put me in a good position. Once again, we have a strong team lining up, and I am feeling confident heading into the race," Van Avermaet said.
"This is another race where it is difficult to stay away in the final but my shape is where I want it to be and it would be good if I can finish with a top ten result."
Like Hamburg, the balance of the Ouest-France route is tipped in favour of the sprinters, though there's a late climb that could serve as a springboard for an attack.
"Bretagne Classic Ouest-France is another UCI WorldTour race, and so with points on the line, and Greg Van Avermaet leading the individual rankings, we will be going in with him as our leader," said BMC directuer sportif Valerio Piva.
"Normally this race comes down to a bunch sprint and, while there is a climb with 3km to go, it is not really enough to split the group, but we will go there for Greg and try to do everything we can to help him arrive in the best position. We also have riders like Silvan Dillier and Dylan Teuns who can make a move on the circuit and make the race hard. We need to ride aggressively, and I think we have a team capable of being in every move, so we will see how we arrive at the final."
After the race, Van Avermaet will look to add to his WorldTour points tally at the Grand Prix races in Quebec and Montreal in early September, where he finished second and first respectively last year. He could make an appearance at Il Lombardia in October before closing out his season at the all-new Tour of Guangxi, the final event on the WorldTour calendar. In between all that, and of greater importance than points, are the World Championships in Norway on a course well suited to the Olympic champion.
BMC for Bretagne Classic Ouest-France: Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), and Danilo Wyss (SUI).
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