Greg Van Avermaet focused on Ghent-Wevelgem after illness forces E3 withdrawal

The Belgian suffered from digestive problems overnight and took the precaution of pulling out of Friday's E3 Harelbeke

Greg Van Avermaet

BMC's in form Classics man Greg Van Avermaet is fully focused on making the most of Ghent-Wevelgem and the upcoming Tour of Flanders, after illness saw him withdraw from the E3 Harelbeke on the eve of the race.

The Belgian raced in Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, and was extremely active in making a solo attack, but began to feel ill after Thursday's pre-race press conference for E3.

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In order to be fully fit for Sunday's Ghent-Wevelgem and next week's Monument, Tour of Flanders, Van Avermaet was advised by team doctors to take rest instead of contesting Friday's WorldTour Classic.

"I don't feel 100%," Van Avermaet said. "I've had some stomach problems and I didn't have a great night so I think the best decision is to not ride today and focus on Ghent-Wevelgem and Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

"I was feeling good yesterday [Thursday] when we trained and still during the press conference in the afternoon. I didn't have any appetite last night and that's when I started to feel unwell. When your body is telling you something I think you have to listen to it," he added.

"I wanted to be there at E3 Harelbeke because it is one of the nicest races of the year, but Ronde van Vlaanderen is only one week away. I'm convinced my teammates will do well today and I'll be watching them. I know they are strong so even without me I think they will have a great race and get some good results."

Van Avermaet has been in fine form already in 2016 and would have gone in to E3 as one of the favourites for victory. The 30-year-old took victory in the cobbled semi-Classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February, before going on to take his first overall victory at WorldTour level in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

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