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Van Avermaet searching for top step of podium at 'favourite race' Strade Bianche

Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet takes on the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet takes on the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) will resume his 2020 season at Strade Bianche on Saturday, hoping to improve upon his best finish at the Italian one-day race of second in both 2015 and 2017.

The 35-year-old Belgian enjoyed a steady start to the 2020 season, with 20th overall at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February, followed by 13th place overall at the Volta ao Algarve later that month. He then managed to complete two Belgian one-day races – the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne – before the sport's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, finishing 13th and 26th, respectively.

"Strade Bianche is one of my favorite races, so it's special to have this as my first race back," Van Avermaet said in a team press release on Tuesday. "I've normally always raced well there, so I'm hoping to do the same again.

"I was able to stay motivated throughout lockdown and now, after our training camp in Livigno [in Lombardy, Italy], I feel like my shape is where it needs to be," he said. "Of course, the circumstances will be a little different than normal, and the heat will be a big factor, so I hope I'm ready for that.

"Then I'm excited to race Gran Trittico Lombardo [August 3]. It will be interesting to discover a new race, and I think it will suit me well. I'll enjoy every moment regardless because I can't wait to race again," Van Avermaet said.

CCC Team sports director Fabio Baldato added: "Greg is our undisputed leader for Strade Bianche, where he has previously finished in the top 10 on seven occasions, two of which were on the podium.

"Strade Bianche is a tough race in the normal racing calendar, but this year, I think we're in for a big shock with the heat and after so many months without racing," he said, referring to the race's rescheduled summer date, while it's normally held in March.

"It's hard to predict what will happen when this will be the first race back for all of our riders, but we are going into the race confident. Greg and the Classics team have just completed a block at altitude and their shape is good. Ultimately, we are just happy to be back racing and thankful to be able to do so," Baldato said.

CCC Team for the 2020 Strade Bianche: Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Geschke, Jonas Koch, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck