Greg Van Avermaet secured overall victory at the SkodaTour de Luxembourg in emphatic style, winning the final stage after an impressive show of strength on the final climb to the line.
In a change to tradition, four riders went clear within the opening kilometers of stage 4 and quickly built up an advantage that was touching seven minutes after just 20km, of the 174.6km course.
With BMC Racing Team taking control and setting the pace at the front of the peloton, the gap soon started to hover around 5 minutes.
Heading into the second half of the day, the advantage of the breakaway was falling steadily and eventually, with 50km to go, there was less than one minute separating them from the rest of the field.
As the gap fell to under 20 seconds, five riders accelerated off the front of the peloton and were able to make contact with the one remaining breakaway rider.
This new leading group was able to put some daylight between themselves and the bunch inside the final 30km. However with three laps of the 3.8km finishing circuit to cover, all of which included the category one climb up the Pabeierbierg, riders quickly dropped back to the bunch.
Just two riders remained in front as the final bell rang and, with BMC Racing Team still setting a fierce pace, it was all back together under the flamme rouge.
The riders headed onto the final climb at full speed with Van Avermaet tucked in the wheel of Loïc Vliegen before a final burst of acceleration saw him hit the front with 150m to go.
In another incredible show of strength, Van Avermaet looked unstoppable as he powered his way up to the line before punching the air with delight after securing a second stage win and the overall victory.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Congratulations, Greg. You took two stage wins and the overall victory in Luxembourg, was this something you were expecting coming into the race?
“When I came into this race, I was just thinking about improving my form and being a little bit better every day so, I was surprised when I was second in the prologue. From there, the expectation to do well came from me. Every day was a parcours suited to me, so it became easier and easier to take a victory and I am really happy to win.”
Talk us through today’s final climb.
“I think today was a better climb for me. Yesterday was a little bit longer, and I didn’t time my sprint as well as I did today. It was much better today. It was a stage more suited to puncheurs like me but, I have to say, the team did a really good job to bring me where I wanted to be.”
“They worked all day and even at the end of the race, we still had enough guys to put me into a good position. We only had seven riders here, but all six guys were riding really well for me today, and I only had to do the last 150m. So, it was actually pretty easy.”
Did you feel any pressure heading into today’s stage?
“I felt a little bit of pressure because I really wanted to win especially after the effort of all the guys. You have to prove that you are the leader of your team by finishing off the job. It was a good experience.”
What does this mean looking ahead to the rest of the season?
“It’s always good to start with a win again. This might not be a UCI WorldTour race but every victory counts, and it is always good to get into this mindset. But now, the main goal for me is winning a stage in the Tour de France, and that is the most important thing.”