Van Avermaet skips Dwars door Vlaanderen to rest up for Tour of Flanders

CCC Team have confirmed that team leader Greg Van Avermaet will skip Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen in order to recover fully ahead of this Sunday's all important Tour of Flanders.

With both the E3 BinckBank Classic last Friday and the past weekend's Gent-Wevelgem having been considered particularly demanding, Van Avermaet will use the break to rest and train, and will be replaced at Dwars door Vlaanderen by Nathan Van Hooydonck.

"The E3 BinckBank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem were two very demanding races so, in order to optimise his recovery, we decided, together with Greg, that he will not race Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday," CCC Team sports director Fabio Baldato said.

"With Greg out, it presents an opportunity for the other riders to have the freedom to go for a result and do one final race before Sunday.

"Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke and Nathan Van Hooydonck all have a lot of experience on the cobbles and these roads, and we have seen some good work from Paweł Bernas, Kamil Gradek, Jonas Koch, and Szymon Sajnok in some of the smaller races in the past couple of weeks.

"We will be lining up without the pressure of riding for a big favourite, so I hope to see an aggressive race from all seven riders," he said.

"It's my first time at Dwars door Vlaanderen but I’m very familiar with the roads," Van Hooydonck said, delighted to have been given the opportunity to race in Van Avermaet's absence.

"With Greg not starting, I'm happy that the team believes in me and is giving me the chance to ride my own race. I'm going to try and make the best out of it. With Gijs and me there together, we can play off each other and, if he's in a good position, I'll help him, and I'm confident he'll do the same for me.

"Even though we're not lining up with a big leader like Greg, we're still motivated to get a good result," he continued. "The race normally sees a small group make it to the line – otherwise it's a big bunch sprint, so if we can get someone in a small group, that would be great, and, if not, Gijs can sprint after a hard race.

"We need to race aggressively, like at the E3 BinckBankClassic, and not just look at the other teams with big leaders," said Van Hooydonck, who finished 55th at the E3 last week, and is set to ride this weekend's Tour of Flanders in the service of Van Avermaet.

"The weather and wind will always have an influence on the race, especially at the top of the climbs or on the cobbles where the crosswinds can split the bunch into five pieces in the space of a kilometre – as we saw on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem. It will be a good chance to get another race in my legs before Flanders on Sunday," he said.

CCC Team for the 2019 Dwars door Vlaanderen: Paweł Bernas, Kamil Gradek, Jonas Koch, Szymon Sajnok, Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck. 

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