Van Avermaet, who is the defending champion, and Pauwels, who won in 2017 and was third in 2018, will be joined by a strong team motivated to secure back to back wins at the race, Sports Director Jackson Stewart said.
“With the past two winners in our ranks, it’s clear that the Tour de Yorkshire is a race suited to the team so we are lining up aiming to be back on the podium. Alongside Greg and Serge, we have a Classics-focused team with Paweł Bernas, Michael Schär, Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, all of whom have enjoyed a short break after the cobbled Classics, as well as Alessandro De Marchi, who had a solid week in the Ardennes,” Stewart explained.
“The course this year has a bit of everything and it looks like the third and fourth stages will be the most crucial for the General Classification with the short, but steep climbs. Stage two also offers the riders the chance to see the World Championship road race course under race conditions which will be an advantage for them later in the year. I think we have a strong team to tackle the race this year with the aim to win a stage and look to have a rider finish on the podium.”
Van Avermaet is relishing the chance to return to the Tour de Yorkshire to defend his title.
“It’s always a nice feeling to line up at a race with number one on your back as defending champion. I’m looking forward to returning to the race and trying to defend my title. It’s not an easy race by any means but I think we have a strong team, especially with the 2017 winner Serge Pauwels, and we can make another nice result. As a Classics rider, there are not many stage races where I have a realistic shot of winning the General Classification, but the stages at the Tour de Yorkshire suit me,” Van Avermaet said.
“There is no other race like the Tour de Yorkshire. The crowds are amazing, the atmosphere is really special, and the scenery is beautiful so that makes the race really stand out. It will also be a good chance to see the route for this year’s World Championships in race conditions, so I’m looking forward to that.”
With two podium results in the past two years to his name, the Tour de Yorkshire is one of Pauwels’ favorite races of the season.
“My overall win at the Tour de Yorkshire is definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far. It was a really nice victory because I won the final stage and the General Classification and I crossed the line with my teammate from Team Dimension Data at the time so that was a special moment and memory for me,” Pauwels explained.
“I have always loved this race. I first did it in 2016 and since then, I always wanted to come back and I have also had reasonable success each year. I finished on the overall podium with my new CCC Team teammate, Greg last year and I’m looking forward to racing in Yorkshire again this time with him as defending champion.”
Tour de Yorkshire (May 2-5)
Rider roster: Paweł Bernas (POL), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL).
Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Piotr Wadecki (POL)
Photos: Chris Auld