Van Avermaet to skip Vuelta a Espana

Greg Van Avermaet will skip the Vuelta a Espana this year, saying it is probably too challenging. After the 2012 London Olympics and the Eneco Tour, the BMC rider will look to a series of one-day races before hopefully heading to the World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands.

"I came to the conclusion that it is better not to ride the Vuelta a Espana in preparation for the Worlds. The Vuelta this year is very hard and there are only two stages where I would have the chance for a victory,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

“Therefore I prefer a program of one-day races. First on my program is still the Eneco Tour. Afterwards follow San Sebastian, Plouay, Hamburg, Quebec and Montreal.  I want to play it safe for the World Championships in Valkenburg. Too hard of a Vuelta would do me more harm than good.”

Van Avermaet rode the first three stages of the Tour de Wallonie before leaving for London on Tuesday, and he feels best prepared for the Olympics. "The Tour of Poland was ideal. On the toughest stage I finished fourth. Afterwards I could recover in a few days to ride for three days in Wallonie,” he said. “I'm ready to go to London to defend the Belgian interests.”

He also disclosed the Belgian plan to win the gold medal in the road race – sending a Belgian in every escape group. If they keep the pace high enough, they can drop “guys like Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan and hopefully it won't come to a mass sprint. Because with a Belgian in the lead group, any one of us can take it.”

Skipping the Vuelta will mean that Van Avermaet will not have ridden a Grand Tour this year. He has also not had a win all season, but several top five finishes in the spring, finishing just off the podium in the Tour of Flanders.

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