Van Avermaet: It’s been harder to win than last year

This weekend, Greg Van Avermaet vows, will be different. The BMC rider has been consistent if unspectacular on the cobbles thus far in 2018, but he maintains that the greater distance of the Tour of Flanders can tilt the balance in his favour after falling short to this point.

“Flanders is the race that suits me best, it’s the one with 260k, which makes it different to Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem,” Van Avermaet said at his pre-Ronde press conference in Sint-Martens-Latem on Friday morning.

“Harelbeke is really hard but only 200k, Gent-Wevelgem is 250k but less hard. Flanders is a really specific race, which makes it easier for me in the last 40k, because in the final there are not too many contenders anymore who can go for the victory.”

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Van Avermaet’s credo echoes that of the American football coach Marv Levy, who would repeatedly tell his players, “When it’s too tough for them, then it’s just right for them.” That mantra carried Levy’s Buffalo Bills to four successive Super Bowls in the early 1990s, but they fell short of the biggest win of all on each occasion.

Chance has not yet smiled on Van Avermaet at the Ronde, either, with crashes ruining his challenge in each of the past two seasons. He underlined his aptitude for the race with eigth place as a second-year professional in 2008, and finished on the podium three times, placing second in 2014 and 2017, and third in 2015. Now lining up for 12th participation, there will be few more experienced riders in the peloton in Antwerp on Sunday morning.

“It’s always the main goal of the year. I’ve been here several times, hopefully this weekend it all falls into place. Even with fewer results [beforehand] than this year, I have managed to get on the podium in Flanders. I’m really confident about this race,” said Van Avermaet, who acknowledged that his window of opportunity to win the great race is slowly yawning shut. “After this year, I have maybe another two chances. Then you’d have to ask me again in 2020. I’ll be 35 then, but I don’t know how you feel when you’re getting old.”

Team concerns

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