BMC Racing and Belgian federation clash after team refuses to let Greg Van Avermaet ride for national squad

Busy calendar and risk of injury means American team won't let riders race in European Championships

Greg Van Avermaet competing for Belgium at the 2016 Olympic Games
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

BMC Racing and the Belgian national federation have clashed after the American team took the decision not to release any of its riders, including Greg Van Avermaet, for the road race at European Championships in August.

The event, which was started in 2016 and will take place in Glasgow on August 12, has been won by Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff in the past two years, but will not feature any BMC Racing riders in 2018.

According to the team, the decision is based on the timing of the race, which comes two days after the end of the Tour de Pologne, during the Tour of Utah, and only one day before the start of the BinckBank Tour.

"This race is at a very bad time in our calendar," sports director Allan Peiper told Belgian website "The BinckBank Tour starts the next day, but there's also the Tour of Poland just before, the Tour of Utah and the EuroEyes Classic. We need to have 24 riders available at that time."

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Peiper also said that the team had suffered in the past as a result of riders crashing while riding for their countries, such as when Richie Porte crashed and broke his right scapula at the 2016 Olympic Games that put him out of action for the rest of that season and also disrupted his preparation for the following year.

Reacting to BMC Racing's decision, Belgian national selector Kevin de Weert said that he was disappointed that he was going to have to make do without some of his strongest riders on what is a hilly circuit in Glasgow that would have been well-suited to Van Avermaet.

"Their decision is all the more unfortunate that the route is perfect for Greg and that he was motivated by this event," De Weert said. "Now I will have to do it without the other Belgians from BMC, so I'll make my selection based on that."

De Weert's new team is likely to be based around two or three leaders, with Philippe Gilbert among the contenders for victory.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.