Greg Van Avermaet is upbeat ahead of Classics season

Greg Van Avermaet is upbeat ahead of Classics season

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet still feels he can compete with the best in the one-day races despite injury curtailing his early season training.

Michael Stokoe

It hasn’t been the best of preparations for the new season for BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet as he broke his ankle towards the end of last year which has scuppered some of his training ahead of the new season.

But the Olympic Gold medallist doesn’t feel concerned about the lack of training ahead of the upcoming Classics campaign as he looks to win one of the big monuments this year.

Last season was a mixed bag for the Belgian; he had a few crashes which kept him out of some big early races; but in the Tour de France he held the Yellow Jersey for a period of time and then in Rio he won Gold in the men’s road race – but this year his sole focus is on doing well in the Classics.

Avermaet feeling good despite injury

The 31-year-old only came off the crutches just before Christmas, but with a few months until the early season one-day races he feels he will be able to compete at a high level and challenge for the big honours.

"The last few weeks I'm full in training. I feel that the condition is coming fast,” said Avermaet.

Looking ahead to this season, Avermaet is in confident mood. Not only is his riding progressing rapidly well, but situations have changed at his team as Philippe Gilbert has moved to Etixx-Quickstep meaning Avermaet will have sole leadership in the bigger one-day races, something which was a bone of contention in previous years.

Speaking about Gilbert and his move, Avermaet said: "Okay, it was not always easy to stand at the start with two winners and outspoken leaders. The only advantage will be that in the Amstel Gold Race I can now ride for myself and must not sacrifice myself for others.

Sagan is the benchmark at the moment admits Avermaet

Plenty has been said about the talent of Peter Sagan, the Slovakian dynamite is undoubtedly the biggest star in the sport right now and after another hugely successful season last campaign. This year the Bora-Hansgrohe rider is again a strong favourite for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

But it seems Avermaet is relishing the challenge, saying: "My biggest competitor is Sagan, but I am certainly not afraid of him. I beat him a few times and he beat me too.

He continued by saying: “I'm just as strong. If we are together at a race it is fifty-fifty. But I gladly race against him. Like me, he rides open and attacking."