Van Avermaet storms to Gent-Wevelgem title

Greg Van Avermaet (fi’zi:k Antares 00 saddle and BMC Racing Team) made history on Sunday, becoming the first rider since 1981 to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the same season. His latest victory, Gent-Wevelgem, came after the 31-year-old Belgian held off a spirited challenge from Jens Keukeleire. Peter Sagan finished third.

Just two days earlier, Van Avermaet stormed to the E3 Harelbeke title and showed he’ll be the one to beat come Ronde van Vlaanderen next Sunday. ‘It’s definitely the best start to a season I’ve ever had,’ Van Avermaet beamed after the race. ‘It’s a wonderful feeling and given me extra confidence for the Tour of Flanders.’

The day started beneath beautiful blue skies and early on in the 246km battle, nine riders lit up the race by breaking free from the peloton, including Hugo Houle (fi’zi:k Arione VSX and AG2R La Mondiale), Ryan Mullen (fi’zi:k Antares R1 and Cannondale-Drapac) and Jay Thomson fi’zi:k R1B shoesand Team Dimension Data). The group worked well together, at one point forging a lead of over 7 minutes. However, cross-winds and a peloton that maximised echelons shrunk their advantage, and then with 50km to go, BMC Racing Team, including Daniel Oss (fi’zi:k R3B Uomo shoes) and Loic Vliegen (fi’zi:k Antares R3), put down the hammer and reeled in the leading group.

It was the final ascent of the Kemmelberg when Van Avermaet made his move, along with a group of 14 riders who went clear of the peloton. With 20km to go, Keukeleire attacked, followed by Van Avermaet, Niki Terpstra, Sagan and Kragh Andersen.

With 15km to go, it was Van Avermaet versus Keukeleire… and like he has done numerous times already in 2017, it was the Belgian who shone brightest down the final straight.

Elsewhere in Europe, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde (fi’zi:k Arione VSX) proved an unstoppable force as he won his third stage of the Volta a Catalunya to claim the GC title by 1:03mins over Alberto Contador. Valverde’s teammate, Marc Soler ((fi’zi:k Antares 00), finished third.