Van Avermaet pleased with his return

By Susan Westemeyer

Greg Van Avermaet missed a lot of time this spring with a virus that settled in his middle ear, causing equilibrium problems that stopped him from racing. But the 22 year-old Belgian has made a tremendous comeback, finishing only 21 seconds down on Sunday in Milano-Sanremo.

"I surprised myself with that," the Silence-Lotto rider told the belga press agency. "I had Nokere in my legs after my forced pause, and rode the 'Primavera' only for training."

It was not easy for Van Avermaet to sit out for exactly one month. "It was certainly not pleasant," he noted. He was sorry not to be able to help his team-mates, but "I was obliged to rest and get healthy, and hope not to lose too much condition. That succeeded to a large extent, thanks in part to an intensive training period in the Tuscany."

Looking to the future, he said, "Sanremo assured me that I have not lost much of my condition, but I don't want to state any specific goals for the rest of the spring season. In the first place, I want to remain healthy and if that succeeds, I may be able to make some progress. If I am successful, that will be wonderful. But if no success comes along now, then it will happen in 2009."

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