Greg Van Avermaet will 'race aggressively' at Tour of Flanders

Tour of Flanders favourite Greg Van Avermaet will not expectation get in the way of aggressive racing at this Sunday's Monument.

Greg Van Avermaet wins the 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) insists that he will "race aggressively" at this Sunday's Tour of Flanders and not allow the burden of expectation to inflict on his racing style.

The Olympic road race champion has been the stand out rider of this year's Classics campaign, winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem.

BMC's star rider is now targeting his fourth cobbled success of this spring at Sunday's Ronde and he is no mood to play down his chances, saying that he is in the strongest shape he has ever been in and can animate the race the way he wants to.

Equally, the tag as favourite does not weight heavy on him, while he also has revenge to exact after he crashed out of last year's Flanders midway through the race.

"I know I'm the strongest I've ever been in spring and this year the race passes my house," the Belgian said. "I say it every year: I know the roads so well, I train every day on the parcours, and this year I feel like it's my turn.

>>> Greg Van Avermaet: ‘In hard races I know I can beat anyone’

"I'm going to race aggressively and I have seven riders completely dedicated to helping me win. There's nothing more I can do to prepare. I'm ready.

"My win at Ghent-Wevelgem was incredible and as I said then, I don't think I can pretend that I'm not the favourite any more for the Tour of Flanders.

"I've had the best start to the season possible and what gives me even more confidence is knowing that my favourite race, the race that suits me the most, is still to come."

Van Avermaet's biggest rival is world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). In each of Van Avermaet's three Classic victories this year, he has beaten Sagan, with the Slovakian only bettering his nemesis once, when he won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne ahead of Van Avermaet in seventh.

>>> Fabian Cancellara: ‘They talk about Sagan and Van Avermaet, but it’s not the same as me and Tom’

Should Flanders come down to a sprint involving the two riders, BMC's sports director Fabio Baldato is confident his rider can edge out Sagan and others.

"Greg has proved time and time again this year that he is strong, he is a champion," Baldato said. "We know that every team will be looking at us on Sunday but when you have a leader as strong as Greg that doesn't matter.

"Greg knows how to race, when to make a move, and as we have seen at E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem, he can sprint against anyone at the end of a long, hard race."

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.