CCC Team's Greg Van Avermaet has told the Belgian media that he'll decide on Friday whether to take part in Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The 35-year-old crashed out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on October 4, which left him with fractured ribs and a torn ligament in his shoulder, as well as the possibility that his season was over.
However, in a Q&A interview with Het Nieuwsblad published on Tuesday, the Belgian said that he was feeling a lot better and was training again, but admitted that he would only line up in Antwerp this weekend if he feels that he'll have a chance of featuring in the finale, and not just to make up the numbers.
"There's still a greater chance that I won't start," Van Avaermaet said. "If I start, it will be to play a meaningful role. I'm not going to just ride from Antwerp to Oudenaarde; I could do that on any day. There's a big difference between riding and racing.
"I feel much better than I did nine days ago, and am back cycling again," he said. "I want to decide as late as possible whether or not to race. The pain is more bearable on the bike, but I have to look at it day by day and see if I can get a good feeling towards the end of this week, and also be one hundred per cent capable of riding the Tour of Flanders."
The Tour of Flanders title has always eluded the reigning Olympic road race champion and 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner. In 13 participations, Van Avermaet has finished in the top 10 eight times, including finishing second in 2017 and 2014, and third in 2015.
At Liège, he crashed into a sign on a traffic island, which wasn't marshalled or padded, with around 100km to go, along with Bora-Hansgrohe's Jay McCarthy and Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates, who also both quit the race, although without serious injury.
"I was in good shape at the start in Liège," Van Avermaet said, "and it'll be possible to improve my condition again over the next few days.
"I did some fitness training on Saturday and Sunday, but I still have to find that feeling of fitness [on the bike] on Thursday and Friday," he said. "If I can't, then it would be crazy to start on Sunday. If the race was tomorrow [Wednesday], then I certainly wouldn't be doing it.
"This isn't a race around the church tower," Van Avermaet said of Flanders. "You have to be 100 per cent ready."
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