Greg van Avermaet: "I don't necessarily rate Van der Poel higher than Van Aert"

Greg van Avermaet is a former winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and in his first spring away from the peloton, he will keep a close eye on the favourites' form. In a recent interview, he admits that Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are currently racing at virtually the same level.

“Roubaix or De Ronde is still 50-50 for me. Van Aert's results have been equally good in both races so far. Why would Van Aert no longer have the explosiveness needed to win De Ronde? I don't necessarily rate Van der Poel higher than Van Aert," van Avermaet told Het Nieuwsblad. “Last year's Cyclocross World Championships were a turning point in that regard. Van der Poel has since shown a greater killer instinct."

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Last year van der Poel took that confidence and he then went on to win Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships. In every single one, van Aert was in the podium, but the Team Visma | Lease a Bike missed out on a season-marking victory. “He has never had that luck," 'Golden Greg' says. The Belgian is fully focusing on the monuments this season, the Giro d'Italia and the Olympic Games where he has the chances to succeed and flip a less good chapter in his career.

For the spring, he will change schedules, opting to train at altitude instead of racing Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. Looking back in his career, van Avermaet believes he should've done the same. "I was one of those last fools who still rode everything," he admits. Van der Poel in the meantime is preparing for the road specifically after conquering a sixth cyclocross world title. His first race of the season is not yet confirmed, but Strade Bianche or one of the World Tour stage-races are likely to be chosen.

Both will face off and be the main favourites for both Flanders and Roubaix later this spring. In the first Tadej Pogacar - last year's winner - will not be present. Van Aert last year was on his path to directly fight for victory, but he suffered a puncture during a late key moment of the race as he attacked, which was the moment Mathieu van der Poel won the race.

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