Sports Director Fabio Baldato said without Van Avermaet at the start line, all seven riders will have their own chance at the UCI WorldTour race.
“E3 BinckBank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem were two very demanding races so, in order to optimize his recovery, we decided together with Greg that he will not race Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday,” Baldato explained.
“With Greg out, it presents an opportunity for the other riders to have the freedom to go for a result and do one final race before Sunday. Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke, and Nathan Van Hooydonck all have a lot of experience on the cobbles and these roads, and we have seen some good work from Paweł Bernas, Kamil Gradek, Jonas Koch, and Szymon Sajnok in some of the smaller races in the past couple of weeks. We will be lining up without the pressure of riding for a big favorite so, I hope to see an aggressive race from all seven riders.”
Van Hooydonck is looking forward to making his debut at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
“It’s my first time at Dwars door Vlaanderen but I’m very familiar with the roads. With Greg not starting, I am happy the team believes in me and gives me the chance to ride my own race. I’m going to try and make the best out of it. With Gijs and I there together we can play off each other and if he is in a good position, I will help him and I’m confident he will do the same for me. Even though we are not lining up with a big leader like Greg, we are still motivated to do a good result,” Van Hooydonck said.
“The race normally sees a small group make it to the line, otherwise it’s a big bunch sprint, so if we can get someone in a small group that would be great, otherwise Gijs can sprint after a hard race. We need to race aggressively like in E3 BinckBankClassic, and not just look at other the teams with big leaders. The weather and wind will always have an influence on the race, especially at the top of the climbs or on the cobbles where the crosswinds can split the bunch into five pieces in the space of a kilometer, as we saw on Sunday at Gent-Wevelgem. It will be a good chance to get another race in my legs before the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen (3 April)
Rider roster: Paweł Bernas (POL), Kamil Gradek (POL), Jonas Koch (GER), Szymon Sajnok (POL), Michael Schär (SUI), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Steve Bauer (CAN)
Photos: Cor Vos