Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) has decided to skip Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in the build-up to the bigger Spring Classics, which is a block of the season that he has placed a target on for 2019. In an interview with Sport.be, the Olympic champion said that when it came to altering his programme, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne was the parcours that suited him the least.
"It is almost a copy of other years," Van Avermaet said of his race programme. "I'm not racing Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this year, my program is already loaded and that is a race where it often turns out to be a sprint and I have fewer chances, but I'm definitely starting in the Omloop [Het Nieuwsblad], which I already won twice and which is very important, especially in Flanders where after the Tour of Flanders is the most talked about [race]."
At an opening CCC Team camp in December, Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews that his first race of the season would take place at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana at the start of February before he travels to the Middle East to compete at the Tour of Oman.
He will kick off the Spring Classics during opening weekend at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, a race that he has won twice, skip Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and then head to Italy to race Strade Bianche. He will then line up at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he aims to secure a second overall title.
His Spring Classics campaign will resume at Milan-San Remo and then move into the cobbles of E3-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, events he has won, and then Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, where he won the 2017 edition.
Van Avermaet had a series of top placings in the Classics during the 2018 season, but didn’t manage to secure a victory. He told Cyclingnews that winning was of the utmost importance for him under the newly named CCC Team. "Winning is a must for me," Van Avmermaet told Cyclingnews at the December training camp. "It's the most important thing. It didn't work out this year but I was always competitive in every race. I think next year  I can win one or more Classic – it just has to all come good."
Van Avermaet told Sport.be that he is excited to begin a new chapter with CCC Team. He has become the team's primary leader, after GC hopeful Richie Porte signed a contract to Trek-Segafredo for 2019. Van Avermaet said that he is looking forward to getting the new season underway.
"I am extremely motivated, even more than other years, CCC is a new team, I am the only leader and I feel a bit more responsible now," he said.
"We are not as strong as we used to be, but in the spring, I think we will start with a very strong block and we will show up with a few new guys who will want to prove themselves. I'd like to score in the spring, when my season is successful, that's simple and not simple, if I win a classic."
CCC Team are currently racing a the Tour Down Under where his teammate Patrick Bevin won stage 2 and is leading the overall classification. "That is fun, it is important that we immediately take a good start, which immediately creates a positive atmosphere," Van Avermaet said.
Van Avermaet will also be racing on a new bike brand for the first time in eight years, moving from BMC to the team’s new sponsor Giant. He presented the bike in a recent video, as he talked about the new colour design; gold that fades to black, along with inclusion of three symbols: A trident that refers to his victory in Tirreno-Adriatico, a cobblestone in reference to Paris-Roubaix, and an image of Christ the Redeemer, which is the statue in Rio de Janeiro, and refers to his Olympic gold in 2016.