Van Avermaet, who also finished second at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastián earlier this month, was right at home on the tough, classics style final stage of the BinckBank Tour, which featured 18 punchy climbs over 178km with a finish in Geraardsbergen.
“I was feeling really strong and thinking I could win the stage,” said Van Avermaet, who rode his Giant TCR Advanced SL team bike with a CADEX WheelSystem and saddle. “I think maybe I went a bit too early in the sprint but it’s easy to say afterward. I’m quite happy with my legs and how it went. It’s always a big pity to be second, especially today because I’ve been chasing a win already now for a few months.”
The stage resembled a spring classic with cobblestones, narrow roads and three climbs of “the Muur” on the finishing circuits in Geraardsbergen. With a fast start, the first significant break didn’t form until the 100km mark. That break was reeled back in for the final 26.5km lap in Geraardsbergen, and CCC Team worked to help put their leader in position for the finale.
Van Avermaet joined Laurens De Plus and Oliver Naesen in a decisive move on the Bosberg cobblestone climb, and those three battled it out to the finish.
“I think it was quite perfect to go away like that and I was happy to be there,” Van Avermaet said. “I think it was a great move for the stage win and the GC. I’m always happy to have good legs at this point in the season because it depends on how you come out of the Tour de France. I was second in San Sebastian and second here today, and fourth in GC, which means I’m in really good shape. Of course, winning is the most important but if it’s not there you have to take confidence out of a few good top ten places.”