When it comes to the spring classics Greg Van Avermaet is always seen at the pointy end of the race and the Tour of Flanders is no different except for one thing.
The CCC Team star has his sights firmly set on victory on Sunday but it's a win that has so far proved elusive for the man who has won almost everything which suits his style of riding.
He's raced De Ronde a dozen times and his last six races include three podium finishes, two top-tens and one DNF, beaten by the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan, Philippe Gilbert and last year, Niki Terpstra.
While he's still at his peak, at 33, time may be running out but that past experience gives him an insight into the difficulty of the task.
“Every year, I line up at the Tour of Flanders saying the same thing. I’m strong, I’m confident in my form, and I’m motivated to win," he said. "Nothing has changed this year.
"I know I’m capable of winning the Tour of Flanders but it hasn’t happened yet in my career. I hope to change that on Sunday. The Classics are unpredictable so everything has to go your way. If everything goes my way then I’m confident that I can be back on the podium this year.
“We saw at Gent-Wevelgem how chaotic it is when the race is aggressive from the beginning and this definitely suits me, especially in a race like the Tour of Flanders which is longer and harder anyway. Normally, the race is fairly controlled until we hit the last 100 kilometres or so and then it’s all about positioning, the legs, and a little bit of luck.”
Van Avermaet will be backed by the same riders who lined up at E3 BinckBank Classic, where Van Avermaet sprinted to third place, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.
“Greg Van Avermaet may not have stood on the top step of the podium at the Classics so far this year, but he has proved race after race that he is one of the strongest and we have full confidence in him for the Tour of Flanders," Baldato said.
"In support of Greg, we have our three Belgians. Gijs Van Hoecke, Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, as well as Michael Schär, and the Polish duo of Kamil Gradek and Łukasz Wiśniowski.
"We are taking seven healthy riders to the start line, all of whom will do the maximum they can to support Greg until the finale."
“Greg performs best when the race is super hard and given the length of the Tour of Flanders, it’s the perfect race for him. If everything goes to plan in the race then we expect Greg to be fighting for the win, so we hope this year may be his year.”
Victory at the Tour of Flanders would add a second Monument title to Van Avermaet’s palmares, after securing his first at Paris-Roubaix in 2017.