'I've had to prove I could do it my entire career, but with Olympic gold there is recognition'

Greg Van Avermaet hopes his Olympic Games gold medal will allow him to take a free role at the World Championships in October

Greg Van Avermaet wins the men's road race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
(Image credit: Watson)

Greg Van Avermaet admits he may not be the best card the Belgium team has to play at the World Championships in October, but says the confidence he's taken from his Olympic Games victory makes him feel he can win the rainbow stripes.

Tom Boonen is believed to be the trump card in a race that is almost certain to come down to a bunch sprint. The Classics legend has won three races since July 23 to prove that he is still among the best fast men in the peloton.

But Van Avermaet, the perennial Classics runner up, hopes his Rio 2016 road race triumph will allow him to take a free role in the World Championships and also target the win.

"We must go with the Belgian team as outsiders to the World Championships and see what it is. Tom Boonen certainly has a chance in the sprint, but I see myself playing a free role," he said, quoted in Sporza.

"I hope to do during the World Championships what I love to do, which is attack.

"The Olympic title brings me some peace. I have had to prove my entire career that I could do it, but with that gold medal that has happened. The recognition is there now."

The 2016 UCI road World Championships takes place in Doha, Qatar between October 9-16, with the men's road race contested over a flat 257.5km course.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.