Van Avermaet has shown he’s in top form, following up an impressive eighth-place finish at Strade Bianchi, held two days earlier in searing heat, with a podium finish at a rainy edition of Lombardo. Monday's 200km race from Legnano to Varese followed a hilly route including a climb of the Piccolo Stelvio followed by four-and-a-half 13km finishing laps around Varese in heavy rain.
Following an early break of five riders, CCC Team took control just after the midway point of the race. The leaders had a maximum time gap of 10 minutes, but the efforts of CCC Team riders brought that down to 5 minutes by the time the finishing laps began. The front group was finally caught at the start of the final lap, and that’s when Van Avermaet and his teammate Alessandro De Marchi, both riding their TCR Advanced SL Disc team bikes, made their move to be in the final group of 12 that would battle for the win.
Spanish rider Gorka Izagirre attacked on the final climb and was able to get away to take the win. Van Avermaet and De Marchi contested the sprint among the rest of the leaders. The Belgian, riding a CADEX 42 Disc WheelSystem and wearing the Giant Rev Pro helmet, secured the podium with a strong third-place finish, while De Marchi finished ninth at the line.
“It was good to be there,” Van Avermaet said. “It was a super hard race, I think we we were able to win but it is not always easy to play your cards really well. Overall I am happy with my third place and I think it can give me some extra shape and rhythm for the next races. I hope I have a good day at Milan-San Remo and we will see how it goes there.”
The Italian classic Milan-San Remo is scheduled for this Saturday, August 8. It’s the first Monument race of the season and is one of Van Avermaet’s big goals for 2020.