After recording the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix win in history, Greg van Avermaet was given “some well-deserved days off this week” according to BMC press officer Phoebe Haymes in an email exchange with Eurosport during an interview set-up with fellow BMC rider and reigning Australian champion Miles Scotson.
Van Avermaet has indeed earned some rest and relaxation after claiming his fourth win of the season on Sunday in record time of 5 hours 41 minutes and seven seconds after clocking an average speed of 45.204 km/h over the 257-kilometre race that featured 29 cobbled sections totalling 55km of pavé.
The current Olympic champion started his current streak with a win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, followed by cobbled victories at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.
The 31-year-old Belgian finished second at Tour of Flanders a week prior to Roubaix, despite a late-race crash with reigning world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) that most probably cost him the win.
Van Avermaet was nearly foiled again by a crash at Roubaix, as well as a mid-race mechanical. But the Olympic champion was able to overcome a day of carnage and chaos to claim the first Monument win of his career.
For Sagan, who was still feeling the effects of his Flanders fall discovered to have been caused by a fan’s coat hanging over the barricade, two punctures spelled the end of his chances at another Monument win for last year’s Flanders winner.
“I’d spent a lot of energy to go on the attack, because it’s not easy for me to get away when they see me move,” a disappointed Sagan said. “I managed to do it twice but I was slowed by punctures.
“It was a bit of an unlucky day for me but then I ran out of energy to be up front in the action.”
While Sagan’s season has not panned out as perfectly as the 27-year-old Slovakian would have liked, he was quick to point out that bad luck was not responsible for all his misfortune.
“An unlucky campaign? I lost Milan-San Remo. At the Tour of Flanders I made a mistake, and then today I was unlucky.”
Valverde continues win streak in Spain…
Veteran Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the Tour of the Basque Country (Vuelta al País Vasco) for the first time after coming second to Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) in Saturday’s sixth and final stage, an individual time trial in Eibar.
Five riders were tied on time heading into the final day of racing, however it was Valverde who was able to retain the overall lead and top the final general classification 17 seconds ahead of rival countryman Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).
“Man, it was hard! I really wanted to win this Itzulia,” said Valverde after the race. “I have been on the verge of success so many years, always came close without a win – fortunately, it seems like I’m on a good streak this season, and claiming overall honours at last makes for a very special success.
The win gives the 36-year-old Spaniard 106th pro win and his fourth win on home soil this season, including his third stage race victory behind triumphs at Catalunya and Ruta del Sol.
“I’m even more surprised than anyone about how things are going for me this season,” he admitted. “Every single year, at this point of the season, I yell it’s my best start ever. But this time, you can’t have any doubt – it’s the best one.
“With everything that I’ve won so far, I’m heading into the classics without any stress … maybe if I win one in the Ardennes, I can skip the rest of the season! (Laughs) Seriously, I’m in very good condition and we must try and take advantage from it at the Ardennes. After that, we’ll have some rest and start preparing for the Tour.”
Colbrelli outsprints defending champ to win Brabantse Pijl
Italian Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) out-sprinted defending champion Petr Vakoc (Quick-Step Floors) to win Brabantse Pijl in Overijse, Belgium on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old rider won out of a select group at the top of the final climb, ahead of Vakoc and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), who were second and third, respectively.
“What a win today! I think I deserved it, after a race where I attacked so many times. I’m really happy,” said Colbrelli.
The victory gives Colbrelli his second win of the season after a number of solid finishes in the Spring Classics, including seventh in E3 Harelbeke and 10th at Flanders.
He also won stage 2 Paris-Nice in March.
Astana, Giro dealt a huge blow with Aru injury
Italian Fabio Aru (Astana) has been forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia, which starts in his native Sardinia on May 5, due to a knee injury suffered during a training crash in Tenerife at the start of the month (April 2).
This news comes as a huge blow to both the team and the grand tour less than month prior to the start.
The 26-year-old, who finished on the podium in Italy in 2014 and 2015 and was regarded as one of the top favourites.
“I’m so sorry and disappointed for what happened: I was dreaming the Giro start from my Sardinia and we were preparing the Giro since months,” said Aru in a translated team statement. “Unfortunately, the accident occurred, don’t allow me to be at the start in sufficient conditions and albeit with great regret, we are forced to give up.”
According to Astana, he was seen in Milan and diagnosed with pre-patellar bursitis, which causes pain while riding. He’s been ordered to take 10 days off the bike and will be evaluated again on April 20.
This injury leaves Astana with few GC options in the Giro, which starts May 5. The Kazakhstan team will support Michele Scarponi, 37, who won the 2011 Giro after Alberto Contador was stripped of his title that year.
Ailing Cavendish could miss California, Le Tour
After suffering from “unexplained fatigue” following Milan-San Remo, 31-year-old Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was diagnosed with glandular fever after a UCI blood test revealed he was suffering from Epstein Barr Virus, which caused the fever.
While the team had hoped he would return for the Tour of Romandie, it now appears he will miss both Romandie and next month’s Tour of California. Even a Tour de France start could be in jeopardy, which would be a huge blow for the 30-stage winner and 2011 points classification winner.
According to team doctor Jarrad Van Zuydam, rest is the main objective in the recovery process, which may take longer than previously expected.
“[Cavendish] will need a longer period of rest than originally anticipated, as he is currently recovering from an overuse ankle injury simultaneously,” said Van Zuydam. “The main goal for Cavendish remains the Tour de France this year.”
Amstel Gold Race (1.UWT), April 16
Women’s Amstel Gold Race (1.WWT), April 16
Tour of the Alps (2.HC), April 17-21
La Flèche Wallonne (1.UWT), April 19
La Flèche Wallonne Feminine (1.WWT), April 19
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1.UWT), April 23
Read the original article on Eurosport: Backspin: Van Avermaet hot, Aru out, Cavendish ailing