For the Belgian star, this was his first individual win since the Tour de Yorkshire last year, as well as being his first in his new team colours, CCC. It was also the team’s first in Europe in 2019 (and third of the season) and after last year’s series of near-misses in the Classics, confirms that Van Avermaet is hitting top form just in time for his first big target of 2019, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
As if that was not enough, Van Avermaet’s win came against a stellar line-up, where riders like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Luis León Sanchez (Astana ProTeam) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) were visibly itching for a chance to raise their arms in the air – in Trentin’s case, for what would have been the second time in 24 hours.
Instead, Van Avermaet claimed a victory that, as he pointed out afterwards, had a lot to do with his team-work as much as it did with his own individual ability. De Marchi played a key role by clamping down a late attack by Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) but the group effort had been another big factor in the equation as well.
“I’m very relieved and very proud to have got this win,” Van Avermaet said afterwards. “At the end of the stage, there were four of us in front – [Lukas] Wisniowski, [Amaro] Antunes, De Marchi and me.
“We worked very well together, this race is a kind of test or preparation event, but the field is WorldTour level for me. That’s why I appreciated this victory even more.
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