Van Avermaet, who was victorious at the then-named E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in 2017, is looking to continue his early season success on home soil which saw him on the podium at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in February.
Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the tough block of racing in Italy from Strade Bianche through to Milan – San Remo was the ideal preparation for the team that will support Van Avermaet.
“We are more or less taking the same team to the next Belgian Classics, only swapping a couple of riders in and out of some of the races. The core Classics team has been with Greg in the past weeks in Italy and the long, tough stages provided a good foundation for the upcoming Classics. We know that Greg is in good shape and he will naturally be our leader at E3 BinckBank Classic. The key to the Classics is to be aggressive and have multiple options so our riders will be protecting Greg and setting him up as best they can for the finale. E3 BinckBank Classic is typically a mini Tour of Flanders and is a race that suits Greg’s strengths. He won in 2017 and was on the podium last year, so we hope to see him back up there again on Friday,” Baldato said.
“Gent-Wevelgem is typically more of a sprinters’ Classic and we often see a larger group of 30 or 40 riders going for a bunch sprint. However, as we saw when Greg won in 2017, anything can happen especially when no-one takes responsibility for chasing any late attacks on the flat run into the finish. Greg has always been up there and in the right moves at Gent-Wevelgem and with his current shape, it should be no different on Sunday,” Valerio Piva, lead Sports Director for Gent-Wevelgem, explained.
Van Avermaet is hungry to return to the terrain he feels most comfortable on; the cobbles.
“It’s always exciting to get to this point in the season, the final races before Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. I feel good and am confident in the shape I have after Italy. It was frustrating to have a few near misses so I’m going to channel that frustration into these Classics and hope to be back on the podium,” Van Avermaet said.
“As a team, we have raced the last two months together and I think we are working well. All of the guys have a lot of experience on the cobbles and know the roads so I’m confident that we will race aggressively. The key to success at the Classics is a combination of form and luck. I know I have the form so I can’t wait to get back to the start line on home soil.”
E3 BinckBank Classic
Rider roster: Kamil Gradek (POL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)
Rider roster: Paweł Bernas (POL), Szymon Sajnok (POL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA)