After returning from a two-hour training ride during an unexpected rest day at Tirreno-Adriatico, Greg Van Avermaet talked up BMC’s chances of snatching overall victory from Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep). He promised to fight for the time bonuses up for grabs at the finish in Cepagatti on Monday before he, Tejay van Garderen, and Damiano Caruso try to cause an upset on the flat, out and back 10.1km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday.
“Now it’s a totally different race. But that’s racing, that’s how it is. I was never imagined this, I’ve just ended up in a good GC position and so now I’ll try to get the best out if in the next two stages,” he told journalists who awaited the BMC riders to return from their training ride.
Caruso, Van Avermaet and van Garderen are just nine seconds down on Stybar thanks to their victory in the opening team time trial and consistent riding in the other stages. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) is fifth at 11 seconds with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) also a threat at 14 seconds.
The world champion could fight for the time bonuses on Monday, move closer to Stybar and then try to snatch overall victory in the final time trial. Van Avermaet intends to follow a similar strategy and use his Classics form to win Tirreno-Adriatico.
“Maybe I can take some bonus seconds at the end of the stage but I’m not going to fight for the three, two and one second at the intermediate sprints. Sagan is also there and he can beat me in those sprints. You’d need to spend a lot of energy and it’d only be for one second or something,” he explained.
“I’ll try to do the sprint at the finish and try to take some seconds there. We’ll see how it goes in the time trial. I’m pretty confident. I’m not a TT specialist, I’m not Fabian Cancellara but I think I can do a good time… We’re in a good position as a team. It’s bad the mountain stage was cancelled for Tejay but we’ve got three guys there who can go for it.
“I’m not sure if Stybar will be worried about us but he’s still got to ride. He’s nine seconds ahead of us and that’s better for him but he’s like us, he’s got a great chance to win Tirreno, that’s something he’s never had, so I’m sure he’ll go for it.”
Van Garderen rode on his time trial bike during BMC’s morning ride but preferred not to speak to the media.
“Tejay was not happy because he wanted to test his condition and make his effort on the climb,” van Avermaet explained. “I can understand him, he wanted to race, like everyone. But under the circumstances, I think they made the right decision before the stage instead of having to do it in the stage.
“Now we have to switch our minds and make the best of it. Tejay won the last time trial he did in the Ruta del Sol and so this has to give him confidence. I think he’s in a good position to win Tirreno.”
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