BMC's Greg Van Avermaet survived an epic day of racing in Gent-Wevelgem but was unable to contest for the win after being distanced by the break of the day and his main classics rivals. The Belgian eventually finished 36th while teammate Daniel Oss was forced to fly the team colours and eventually finished eighth as Luca Paolini (Katusha) took the biggest win of his long career.
However, Van Avermaet at least survived the day relatively unscathed with the six-hour race battered by rain and severe crosswinds. Teammate Michael Schär was not so lucky and was transported to hospital for checks after crashing. Considering Van Avermaet crashed heavily in Friday’s E3 Harelbeke and carried injuries in Gent-Wevelgem, BMC will be relatively relieved that their team leader came through the race unharmed.
“He was in the group but he wasn’t 100 per cent,” team director Valerio Piva told Cyclingnews.
“He finished the race but when the break went clear he wasn’t able to go with those guys. He was strong and felt good but on the Kemmelberg he was just missing 20 metres and when they went full gas he was dropped but we’ve still finished eighth.”
At one point during the race it was reported that Van Avermaet had crashed out of the race and had been taken to hospital but Piva bluntly clarified the situation at the finish.
“He didn’t crash. That’s shit information from the race radio. It’s Schär who is in the hospital but they took the wrong number. Greg never crashed.”
After Van Avermaet’s crash in E3 Harelbeke the rider had suggested skipping Gent-Wevelgem and starting the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde on Tuesday. However, Piva confirmed that both rider and team had sat down and agreed on a strategy on Saturday.
“He told me this morning that he felt good but of course a crash like this takes a bit of time to recover. There was some discussion after the crash but there’s nothing broken and there’s no big problem so we decided together to start here.”
Both Oss and Van Avermaet have a week to regroup and assess both their form and strategy ahead of the Tour of Flanders, a race in which Van Avermaet was runner-up in 2014. For Piva, the priority is recovery.
“The number one priority now is to try and recover and make sure that we have the best team possible on the start line for the Tour of Flanders. Greg is feeling better and we’re motivated to start with our best riders.”
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