Greg Van Avermaet could line up at the Tour of Flanders just two weeks after suffering a fractured vertebrae and collapsed lung at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Belgian crashed hard in the one-day Classic, but says he is feeling much better and will wait until the end of the week to decide if he is well enough to race the cobbled Classic.
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“I feel much better than I did nine days ago. I’m back cycling, I haven’t thrown the towel in yet,” Van Avermaet told Het Nieuwsblad. “When I was lying on the ground in Liège, I decided to wait for the results and my feelings before making a final decision. I wanted to decide as late as possible whether or not to ride.”
Van Avermaet says the pain he’s still experiencing is more bearable when he’s riding, although were it any other race rather than Flanders he’d have a better chance of making the start line.
“Of course there is still a greater chance that I will not ride than I will. It’s not like I’m in super shape here. The pain is more bearable on the bike, I have to look at it day-by-day and see if I can feel better towards the end of this week and also be one hundred percent capable of riding the Tour of Flanders. Because this is not a ‘race’ around the church tower. Then you have to be 100 percent ready,” he said.
Whether or not he does line-up on Sunday will largely depend on what contribution he thinks he can make. Having finished on the podium three times previously, Van Avermaet wants to go there and race, not just simply make up the numbers.
“I can ride from Antwerp to Oudenaarde every day. I want to play a part. That will decide it in the coming days,” he said. “At the moment I can ride but there is still a difference between riding and racing.”
Van Avermaet also says the news of Paris-Roubaix’s cancellation was hard to take, saying if he can’t line up at Flanders then all his hard work will have been “almost all for nothing”.
“I still have to experience that a bit myself,” Van Avermaet said of riding on cobbles with his injuries. “The shocks in themselves are not too bad. When I am stable in the saddle I have the least pain, it only starts when I have to straighten out. The slopes will be a bit more difficult than the cobbles.
“I now want to take advantage of every day and hope I can recover as best I can. It has just been a very exciting year, we have all prepared so much. In my case, it was almost all for nothing. After Liège, I thought about starting the races that suited me best and then something like this happens. It is quite hard to face the truth.”
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