Greg van Avermaet: « Green Mountain is a test of how deep you can go »
With eight participations out of a possible nine in the Tour de Oman, and a stage win and two day spell in the lead last year, Greg van Avermaet is one of the Tour of Oman’s most frequent participants. And this time round, after a blistering sprint victory already in the Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, the CCC Team leader is clearly ready to hit the ground running once again in the Tour of Oman.
Greg van Avermaet, you have been in every Tour of Oman bar one, in 2012, since it began in 2010. From a racer’s point of view, why is this event so appealing for you?
„It’s a good preparation, a relaxing event, good weather with some nice stages, I think it’s good for a rider like me – except for the Green Mountain finish! It’s a nice way to build up for the season, I like the way many of the stages are prepared for punchy riders. Plus after each stage you can ride to the hotel and get in a few more kilometres.
So I can get extra train as well as race, there are at least three stages, sometimes four, which have the kind of terrain that suits me. So I get some results. Sometimes stage races only offer me one day at most where I can do something, but that’s not the case in Oman. I have more chances. And that’s why I keep on going back.
Green Mountain is a very tough mountain for you. How much can you use it to see how good your form will be on terrain that is more suited to you, like in the Classics in Belgium?
A lot of Classics riders use it like that. In my case, on a couple of editions I was working for a GC rider there, so I’d get him to the bottom of the climb, then I’d go hard up it for one or two kilometres anyway, and then take a couple of minutes to recover. Then I’d pick up the pace, just to do a kind of test inside the rest, to see how good you are and how deep you can go.
So Green Mountain operates as a testing ground after you’ve made the big efforts in the rolling stages?
For me this is the perfect place to do it, of course the weather is always super nice and they’ve created a bit more space too on the calendar between the Tour of Oman and my big first Classics goal, Het Nieuwsblad, so that gives me some more time to adapt to the cold weather when I go back in Belgium.
You’ve already had one great result this year, a stage win in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain. Does that lower the pressure for you to get a good result in the Tour of Oman or will you still be fighting as hard as ever?
For sure as a rider you try to win everywhere. But with a new team like CCC it’s even more important to try and get the wins so you can build up the team’s self-confidence. And the stage win I got in Valencia was against a strong field and on a very difficult day’s racing. So these kinds of results are very important to get early in the season. But let’s hope we try to get a stage win in every stage race, make a habit of it, and that’s the most important thing for me, to have certain days in races like this where I can be good.
So that is the goal in Oman, to get another stage victory like you did last year?
Yes, that would be ideal, to win a stage or at least to get a top three position in a few different days.
But in any case you must be very pleased with how the team is coming together this season, with wins in Spain, Australia and New Zealand, and next, hopefully in Oman!
Yes, for sure. It’s always hard, we have a completely new rider line-up so we have to see how it goes, but for now we are where we wanted to be and expected to be. It was a great moment, to see a guy like Patrick [Bevin] taking that World Tour win in Australia [in the Santos Tour Down Under] for us and hopefully that kind of success will give us all motivation on the team to keep on winning in the races to come.