Greg Van Avermaet will put aside his contract situation until after the Classics, at which point he will decide on his future. The Belgian is entering the final year of his current deal at BMC Racing Team and with the team not yet confirmed for 2019, the Paris-Roubaix winner will not be short of offers.
“I’m just looking to the Classics. After that, I’ll look at the contract but I’m happy with BMC and it would be really sad if this team disappears because we’ve created a really good environment,” Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews at one of BMC’s recent training camps.
Van Avermaet has enjoyed a stellar run of form since winning the 2016 Olympic Games road race in Rio. In 2017, he stormed through the Classics with wins in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix. He finished second in the Tour of Flanders, but at the age of 32 has firmly established himself as one of the top Classics riders in the current peloton.
BMC Racing only have funding for the current year, with no riders contracted for 2019. The team’s management has not put a firm timescale together in relation to their future but the reality is that unless funding is supplied by the current sponsors – or a new source of income is found – riders will be courted by rival teams. Van Avermaet, for now, is putting his focus firmly on racing, and while he is keeping his options open, staying with the BMC organisation appears to be his first choice.
“I’ve been here eight years, finally a team leader and I’m always proud to race with BMC on my jersey. It would be strange to leave BMC. I’m open to having new adventures but let's hope that BMC gets a good sponsor.”
Tied to BMC’s and Van Avermaet’s future is the fact that in 2017 the team could only offer one-year deals to prospective signings. It meant that they arrived at the negotiation table with one hand already tied behind their backs. Daniel Oss, a key figure in Van Avermaet’s Classics arsenal, was a key departure with the Italian linking up with Peter Sagan at Bora.
“It’s a big loss. Daniel was always there and he was a loyal teammate, always. I think the best example was Paris-Roubaix in 2017 and a big percentage of that win goes to him. It’s always hard to see someone leave, but I totally understand his position,” Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews.
“Daniel and Peter were riding together in Liquigas and have the same agent. He was offered a longer-term contract, which is hard for BMC to catch up with and you just have to accept these circumstances.”
Replacing Oss is Jurgen Roelandts, a Belgian one-day specialist who has been on the podium in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders. The former Lotto-Soudal rider was a teammate of Van Avermaet earlier in their careers and the two will link up throughout the Spring campaign.
“We’ve tried to get some new signings and I think we’ve done a good job. It’s important because we had to replace Daniel’s role. I liked the idea of bringing in someone who already had experience. Jurgen knows the parcous, he’s Belgian and had the experience. It’s good for him to also get out of the Lotto system. Some fresh air should be good for him and I think he can do well here.”
“After the Classics we sat down and looked at some names. We had to contact him and I think Jurgen came out as the top choice. I don’t think it would have been necessary if Daniel hadn’t left but I think he’s a good replacement. We rode together at Lotto and so we already had a good relationship.”