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Greg Van Avermaet returns to Tour de Yorkshire in chance to see Worlds course

Joe Robinson
30 Apr 2019

Stage 2 will detour to Harrogate to take in the final 15km of this year's World Championships course

Greg van Avermaet is relishing the chance to defend his Tour de Yorkshire title to make up for a disappointing spring and also assess the World Championships course ahead of this September.

The Belgian will lead his CCC Team at the four-day stage race, starting in Doncaster on Thursday, looking to retain the title he took in 2018.

With its rolling parcours and lack of mountains, it is one of the few stage races that Van Avermaet can target and he, alongside teammate and former Tour de Yorkshire winner Serge Pauwels, will look to repeat their past successes.

'I'm looking forward to returning to the race and trying to defend my title,' Van Avermaet said. 'It's not an easy race by any means but I think we have a strong team, especially with the 2017 winner Serge Pauwels, and we can make another nice result.

'As a Classics rider, there are not many stage races where I have a realistic shot of winning the General Classification, but the stages at the Tour de Yorkshire suit me.'

Of particular interest to Van Avermaet will be Stage 2 from Barnsley to Bedale. The 132km route will detour through the town of Harrogate after 75km, taking in the final 15km finishing loop of the World Championships course later in the year.

The Belgian, who will be among the favourites for the rainbow jersey, will use the stage to learn the route ahead of September.  

'It will also be a good chance to see the route for this year's World Championships in race conditions, so I'm looking forward to that,' Van Avermaet added.

Unfortunately for Van Avermaet, he rode a Spring Classics campaign to forget. He failed to take a victory and only managed 10th at the Tour of Flanders, his biggest target of the season.

The 33-year-old will now reset his season in Yorkshire flanked by a strong team. Alongside previous winners Van Avermaet and Pauwels will also be breakaway specialist Alessandro De Marchi and strong domestique Michael Schar.

Also riding will be Pawel Bernas and Classics specialist duo Nathan Van Hooydonck and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.

The men's Tour de Yorkshire starts in Doncaster this Thursday before culminating in Leeds on Sunday. The women's Tour de Yorkshire starts on Friday in Barnsley before finishing on Saturday in Scarborough.