BMC's Greg Van Avermaet hopes to focus more on the Ardennes in 2011
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet hopes to focus more on the Ardennes in 2011

by Jered Gruber at 1:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
25 year old Belgian admits that the racing required in the cobbled classics isn't for him

New BMC signing, Greg Van Avermaet, has, for better or worse, always been considered a sprinter and cobbled classics hope. In a recent conversation with Sportmagazine, the 5th place finisher at the World Championships in Geelong confessed that he hopes to shift his aims from the cobbles to the Ardennes in the future.

Van Avermaet has shown himself capable on the hard hellingen of Flanders, but has never managed to really score any big results. The 25 year old attributes his struggles not to the course, but the racing.

"The cobblestones and the hills are not the problem, because I'm explosive enough. The nervous start is my problem. The fighting and elbows are not so good for me. In my experience, I do better if I don't have to knock down thirty riders to get to the front."

The possibility of Van Avermaet seemingly switching course might seem as a bit of a surprise, but the native of Lokeren has been steadily progressing as a rider capable of doing battle over the hard courses of the hilly classics. His results over the past year weren't spectacular by any means, but 12th overall at Tirreno Adriatico, 11th at the Clasica San Sebastian, 9th overall at the Tour de l'Ain, 5th at the World Championships, and 16th at the Giro di Lombardia are all encouraging for the rider looking to steer away from a focus on the cobbles in April.

The former points classification winner at the Vuelta a Espana hopes to follow in the footsteps of his former teammate, Philippe Gilbert, in terms of his race focus. Van Avermaet feels that racing the Tour of Flanders would not get in the way of his bid to do a great Ardennes Triptych.

"Gilbert did so well this year and won the Amstel Gold Race and was sparkling in Liege. The combination of the Ronde is certainly possible. If it works, then my future is in the Ardennes."

If Van Avermaet can continue to improve, there will be very few that can beat him in a sprint if they go to the line with him. Van Avermaet has shown that he's not quite fast enough to beat the world's fastest, but a rider that can routinely finish in the top five is a major threat against pure climbers at the end of a long, hard race.

With the Ardennes Classics firmly in mind, Van Avermaet still can't quite let go of his Belgian roots. He admits that, ideally, he would race the Tour of the Basque Country in preparation for the Wallonian races, but the call of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is too tempting to pass up.

"The ideal preparation for the Walloon classics would take me through the Tour of the Basque Country, but I would really like to ride the Tour of Flanders. I would not race Paris-Roubaix though, because it's too much for me."

It's an interesting shift in focus for the Belgian fast man. There has never been much question about the talent of Van Avermaet, it's just been a case of unfulfilled promise over the last couple of seasons following a blistering 2008, where he was nothing but rampant.

The move to BMC and a new focus will hopefully be just what the young rider needs to make the step that seems to be waiting to be made.



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