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Van Avermaet ready to support Van Aert at World Championships road race

Greg Van Avermaet (left) trains with teammates from the Belgian national team, Loïc Vliegen and Pieter Serry, in Imola, Italy, ahead of the 2020 World Championships
Greg Van Avermaet (left) trains with teammates from the Belgian national team, Loïc Vliegen and Pieter Serry, in Imola, Italy, ahead of the 2020 World Championships (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet has told the Belgian media that he thinks it's right that the team gets behind compatriot Wout van Aert for Sunday's elite men's road race at the World Championships in Imola, Italy.

"I think that Wout has proven himself more than I have in recent weeks," Van Avermaet said on Thursday evening, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, "so it's only natural that Wout is the leader of this team and that he gets all the help he needs. I'm willing to give it to him, but I can still keep the pressure away from Wout. I certainly still have my worth in this team."

On Friday, Van Aert's second place in the elite men's time trial proved that he had retained the kind of form that saw him take two stage wins at this year's Tour, while riding in the service of Jumbo-Visma team leader Primož Roglič.

"It will be a very difficult race – an elimination race," Van Avermaet said of Sunday's event, which will take on nine laps of a 28.8km circuit featuring two climbs, totalling some 5,000 metres of climbing for the 258.2km race.

"I think that some riders will be a bit scared of the course," he said. "There's a lot of climbing, and the course can't be underestimated. It will be hard enough for the favourites to make a difference, and the best man will win.

"For me, the course seems a lot like Strade Bianche, which is also a race with very steep slopes," Van Avermaet said, referring to the Italian one-day race that he finished second at in 2015 and 2017, and which Van Aert won in August.

"The Worlds road race is a race that should suit both riders that do well at the Ardennes Classics and those that go well at the Flemish [cobbled] Classics," he said.

Van Avermaet, who's set to leave his CCC Team at the end of this year to join AG2R La Mondiale in 2021, has yet to take a win so far in this shortened 2020 season, but following the Worlds, the 35-year-old will take on the 'spring' Classics, which this year take place in October.