In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Cavendish takes first 2017 win at Abu Dhabi Tour; McCabe wins second stage of Tour de Langkawi, Gibbons into lead; Dennis wins Tour de La Provence as Mattia Cattaneo takes final stage; Ariesen wins second stage of Volta ao Alentejo; Cycling Australia poaches Sky’s Simon Jones to head high performance; Van Avermaet heads into Spring Classics with confidence of an Olympic champion; Owain Doull claims disc rotor sliced his shoe in sprint crash on Abu Dhabi stage; Women’s Amstel Gold Race will use traditional Cauberg finish; Belgians Boonen, Vanmarcke ready to start Classics season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne; Baloise Belgium Tour announces 2017 route; Laura Kenny awarded 2016 FT Bidlake Memorial Prize; Trial date set for Armstrong federal whistleblower case; Highlights: Abu Dhabi Tour, stage 1; Highlights: Volta ao Alentejo, stage 1.
Your Friday Daily News Digest
Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks the beginning of the Classic season, the point where the big one-day specialists step forward and show their cards. Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet will be one of those, even if he’s still building prime form. The Olympic road race champion relives his biggest win, talks about how his life and mentality has been transformed since taking gold, and sets out what will be his biggest goal of the year. Here is an excerpt from the feature:
Regarded for several years as a nearly man, a rider who went close to big wins but often seemed to lose out, Van Avermaet made a big leap forward in 2016. He won the Omploop Het Niewsblad in February, outsprinting no less a rider than the world champion Peter Sagan. “I’m never really winning that much,” he admitted afterwards, clearly also surprised by the result.
That got the ball rolling. He went on to win Tirreno-Adriatico, placed a solid fifth in Milan-San Remo and then raced into Tour de France yellow for the first time in his career when he won stage five. Van Avermaet headed to the Olympic Games regarded as an outsider, but won on a course many felt was too hard for him. He capped things off with second to Sagan in the GP Cycliste de Québec and first in the GP Cycliste de Montreal.
“This is my best year so far,” he said at BMC’s pre-season training camp. “I had this a crash, but other than that everything went well. Okay, I missed my favourite races like Flanders, Roubaix and Amstel. But I think Tour de France, Olympic Games, Tirreno and Nieuwsblad, Montreal made a lot of good things about this season. There were more ups than downs.
“I was really, really happy with my season, especially with my victory in Rio. I think I was consistent the whole year again, from [the Tour of] Qatar until the worlds in Qatar. I was there.”
Click through to read more at CyclingTips.