BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet forced the decisive selection at Ronde van Vlaanderen Sunday on the way to a career-best runner-up finish.
‘Sprint Of The Strongest’
Van Avermaet was only out-sprinted in a four-up dash to the line by Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who won the 259.8-kilometer race for the second straight year to become the sixth three-time winner of the Belgian classic. “It was a sprint of the strongest and Fabian started his sprint at the same moment,” Van Avermaet said. “He was a little bit stronger than me. It is a little bit disappointing for me because Flanders is a dream. It is too bad I don’t have it, but I am happy that I was up there in the first group. It gives me confidence and should also give the team confidence. I am only 28 years old, so there are still a few years to come.” Van Avermaet’s previous best finish was fourth in 2012 after placing in the top 10 two other times: seventh last year and eighth in 2008.
Good Help From Teammates
Riding in a lead group of 13, Van Avermaet attacked 30 km from the finish and only Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) followed. With Van Avermaet doing nearly all the work, the pair built a 30-second lead before Cancellara and third-place finisher Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) bridged the gap after the last climb. “I am a little disappointed that Vandenbergh was not working with me so I was always riding on my own,” Van Avermaet said. “I felt very strong and tried to get a good tempo, knowing the strong guys would come. I made it over the Paterberg and then waited a bit.” Already runner-up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month, Van Avermaet said he thought his race was over when he suffered a flat tire earlier in the race. “Klaas Lodewyck gave me a wheel and Silvan Dillier, Michael Schär and Manuel Quinziato did a great job to bring me back on the Koppenberg in the position,” he said.
Phinney On The Front
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said he was pleased to see teamwork and aggressive riding on display all day. “The team reacted unbelievably when Greg flatted,” Baldato said. “All the guys gave everything just to bring him back. And Taylor Phinney had an amazing day in the breakaway. He was strong to the finish and really gave the morale and took the pressure off the team.” In his first outing in “The Ronde,” Phinney was part of an 11-man breakaway that enjoyed a six-minute lead and more than 175 km of freedom before being caught with 43 km to go. “It is always a bit of a relief to get in a breakaway in a monument because then you don’t have to deal with the stress all day,” Phinney said. “It also sets the team up well because they know they always have me up there if they want to bridge across. I was feeling really good and knew I was one of the strongest form the breakaway. I just wanted to last as long as I could and try to be helpful in the later part of the race when it really started to kick off from behind.”
Listen to complete comments from Baldato, Phinney and Van Avermaet (Dutch and English) on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line: