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by Mark Zalewski
February 25, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Kittel wins with bike throw at Abu Dhabi Tour, stage 2; Mareczko wins third stage of Tour de Langkawi; Molano wins Volta ao Alentejo, stage 3; Van Avermaet lukewarm about Flanders route changes; talks Gilbert tensions and Liège; Rivals take note: After breakout year, Lepistö enters Spring Classics with confidence; Phinney out of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with knee injury; Zwift Academy winner Leah Thorvilson to begin racing in Belgium this weekend; Kittel chooses rim brake for second stage at Abu Dhabi Tour; ‘Protest’ over asphalting of Eikenberg cobbles; British Cycling perplexed by UK Sport allegations; Bicycle industry reacting to Utah Governor’s push to strip federal protection for public lands; New world record set for cycling length of New Zealand; Pedal power in sailing; Abu Dhabi Tour, stage 2 highlights; Video: On-board highlights – Abu Dhabi Tour, stage 1; Video: 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour – Chantal Blaak; Video: Vintage cycling day.
Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will mark the first target for Greg Van Avemaet this season, but that race pales in importance when compared to his big aim, the Tour of Flanders. Van Avermaet has a long history in the race, finishing eighth in his second attempt back in 2008, and then placing fourth in 2012, seventh in 2013, second in 2014 and third in 2015. He was one of the top favourites last year but crashed out, sustaining a fractured collarbone. This year’s edition features a modified route which has special significance for Van Avermaet, but he says he has mixed feelings about the changes.
“Well, the good point it is that they are passing my home town, passing the place where I grew up. It is a special feeling. It is something strange,” he said.
“But I hope they don’t change too much the parcours any more. I am not a big fan… I was a fan of Bruges. I think it was the nicest start of the whole year there. There were so many people and so much atmosphere. So I don’t like the changes. [But] it is the organisers who decide, it is not me.”
The modified route was announced by organisers Flanders Classics back on November 30. The biggest standout was the reintroduction of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the famed climb which featured in many editions in the past but which was discontinued before the 2012 race. The news gladdened many fans. However the Muur will be eighth out of the day’s 18 climbs, and so will likely have limited impact on the results. It previously was far closer to the finish.
“I like the Muur,” says Van Avermaet, speaking at the BMC Racing Team’s pre-season camp. “I am training almost every day on it. I really like the climb. But it is hard to fit in the parcours, I think. We go now from Oudenaarde back to Geraardsbergen and from Geraardsbergen back to Oudenaarde. It is hard. They tried to create something, it is not easy to change it. But one point is good, that the last 85 kilometres stays the same. That is the most important, and there we can make the difference.”
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