Belgian cyclist Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line of Paris-Roubaix this Sunday as the defending champion after claiming the first Monument win of his career and in BMC Racing Team’s history in 2017.
Ahead of this weekend’s race, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the team takes confidence from their performance at the recent Tour of Flanders.
“It is a good feeling to be lining up at Paris-Roubaix with the defending champion in our team. We have seen that Greg Van Avermaet is strong in the classics this year and although we haven’t managed to get a win, we are confident ahead of Paris-Roubaix. At the Tour of Flanders, we saw the best performance from a team perspective and all of our riders are motivated to help Greg as much as possible on Sunday. The team remains largely unchanged with the exception of Nathan Van Hooydonck, who is coming back from illness and will replace Alberto Bettiol.”
According to Baldato, Paris-Roubaix is the most unpredictable race of the classics:
“As we have seen in previous years, anything can happen at any moment of the race. We need to be attentive and intelligent in the way we race and by doing this, I am confident that we can produce a good result with Greg as our leader.”
Reigning champion Van Avermaet is relishing the opportunity to race with number one on his back.
“It is a really special feeling to be lining up as the defending champion at Paris-Roubaix. I’ve felt good and confident in my shape the whole classics season but things haven’t fallen into place yet. Paris-Roubaix is completely different to the Belgian classics. As much as you need the legs, you need some luck, to stay safe and avoid punctures. Last year I had some bad luck but I managed to completely change my situation.”
The Belgian continued:
“I was really happy with the team at the Tour of Flanders and we will give it everything we have on Sunday to defend my title. It was amazing last year because I wasn’t expecting to win but I did it. I’m capable of winning again so we will see how far I come.”
Ryan Mullen of the Trek-Segafredo Team, who was 93rd in last weekend’s Tour of Flanders, will be the only Irish competitor in the 116th Paris-Roubaix which covers a distance of 257km from Compiègne to Roubaix.
There will be both live coverage and evening highlights on Eurosport on Sunday.