CCC Team rider Greg Van Avermaet kicked off his 2019 spring classics campaign in top form, scoring a podium finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. Van Avermaet, a two-time winner of the 200km race that serves as the opening of the Belgian classics season, led a strong effort by his team to control the race and put their leader in position to sprint for the podium on his TCR Advanced SL team bike.
Van Avermaet made all the right moves to be part of a five-man group battling for the win at the end. A flurry of attacks on the final climbs decided the race, and Van Avermaet ended up finishing second, winning the field sprint 9 seconds behind race winner Zdenek Stybar.
“I’m super happy with how the race went,” said Van Avermaet, who wore a Giant Pursuit helmet and rode a prototype set of wheels labeled #overachieve. “We went quite early, from the Molenberg, in a big group but then it was always the strong guys who stayed in front. This is the way I like to race, and what fits me the best. In the end, it didn’t work out as they started attacking, but overall I’m happy with my shape and I don’t think I could have played it a different way.”
The 74th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad started and finished in the town of Ghent and took riders through the hills of the Flanders region. Racing in soggy conditions under gray skies, riders faced a number of familiar, decisive climbs including the Valkenberg, Kapelmuur and Bosberg. After an early breakaway group of four gained 14 minutes on the peloton, the main group split as the pursuit kicked in.
Team CCC helped lead the charge, helping put Van Avermaet in position to go for the win.
“Second place is a pity of course because Greg was stronger I think,” said CCC Team sports director Valerio Piva. “We had bad luck at one point in the race when we had three flat tires and there was an attack, so we needed the team to close this gap. Then Greg was super strong in the final. It was clear that he was the fastest and the others tried to anticipate that with attacks. I am happy with the race though, and the team and the way we finished the race. It is only the start of the classics season so we have started it off well.”