Rider Interview: Greg Van Avermaet has been knowledgeable racing bicycle owner for 18 years and has an admirable palmarès behind him: Olympic champion, Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem, Het Nieuwsblad… and the listing goes on. Our man in Spain, Alastair Hamilton caught up with the highest Belgian on the AG2R-Citroën coaching camp, after a 3 yr hole.
Time for a chat with Greg Van Avermaet
PEZ: It should be three years since we spoke, by means of the covid occasions, how have issues modified?
Greg Van Avermaet: For me personally, sure. The crew collapsed (CCC), that was unhealthy, as a result of I believe it was a pleasant undertaking. We had some good signings, I believe the second yr as a result of the primary yr was actually quick. We had been really not too unhealthy, in the event you see the rankings, we had been like ninth or eighth with CCC. Then we had good signings, I believe after which it stopped in July. We saved on racing, however we solely had been half paid. So it was a little bit of a pity as a result of we had some good abilities like Zimmerman, Valter and Hirt. So yeah, it was it was a pity as a result of it was the identical employees from BMC with the identical administration. After which in fact you need to carry on going as a result of they had been good sponsors, with large and CCC. So yeah, that modified every thing. And I ended up in AG2R, which was additionally not unhealthy.
Coaching with AG2R Citroën
PEZ: Coming from a really worldwide crew, like BMC to a extra French crew, was that an issue?
There’s a distinction, yeah. You can not say it’s the identical, there’s a completely different mentality, which each, I believe in their very own means make good outcomes. However, in fact, it was a change for myself. It’s the language and it’s actually French. However in the long run, I really feel fairly good on this crew, and I really feel appreciated. It’s only a pity that my outcomes weren’t that good. I wish to give extra again than I did for now. However yeah, that’s how it’s. I’m nonetheless right here and I simply attempt to do my finest you recognize, and naturally, typically it’s not simply not adequate for myself, personally, as a result of I’ve a whole lot of ambition and I attempt to do higher than this.
PEZ: Does the stress come from your self?
From myself, yeah. I believe the crew admire what I’m doing, as a result of additionally they see how laborious I work from home. You understand with coaching peaks you may see every thing now today. So it’s not that I used to be not coaching on doing nothing. I believe the stress comes from myself as a result of I do know what I did earlier than and then you definately nonetheless need to do the identical and it doesn’t come. That’s why you’re sitting there, you’re a bit unhappy and also you need to do higher.
Mixing it with the younger guys
PEZ: This will likely be your 18th yr as knowledgeable bicycle owner, you need to have seen a whole lot of modifications?
Numerous modifications, lots of people have come by means of, and there have been some proficient guys who had been just a few years professional, so I’m fairly proud that I may make it that lengthy on this in this sort of world which is all the time been my which been my dream. You begin as a younger rider with desires, the place you’re gonna find yourself, you by no means know.
A younger Greg Van Avermaet with Silence-Lotto in 2008, together with Francis De Greef and Jurgen Roelandts
PEZ: You’re of the technology that’s coming to their 40’s, you’ve lasted a very long time. Do you assume the younger guys now will likely be racing at that age?
I don’t know. It’s more durable. I wouldn’t say we had extra enjoyable, but it surely’s completely different. We weren’t that strict on ourselves, I see now the younger guys following schedules. On the coaching camps, once we noticed a climb, typically we went quick, typically we simply did tempo, we weren’t that particular. Now. It’s about every thing being actually particular. Coach, meals, numbers, every thing is analysed and with us it was extra like enjoyable. In case you really feel good you go quick, you’re feeling unhealthy you go a bit slower, extra like that. The query is how lengthy it’s gonna final for the younger guys, to be actually 100%. I believe if in case you have good outcomes you may carry on going, but when it goes a bit of bit much less good, I believe it’s mentally laborious. You additionally see quite a bit now within the interview that a whole lot of younger guys are battling psychological well being, to maintain to maintain it going. As a result of typically it’s a pleasant job, but it surely can be a tough job in the event you don’t see the great issues anymore.
PEZ: For Evenepoel it could be ‘simple’, as a result of he got here straight from juniors to WorldTour. However for the opposite guys, who’re possibly extra common, what are their probabilities like?
I believe they’ve an opportunity. You simply have to seek out your means within the peloton. No, no, it’s not really easy. However it’s additionally an odd time additionally, like some guys, in the event that they’re helper, you may have profession additionally. It’s not solely the blokes that win that may have profession, I believe you need to simply discover your home the place you are able to do what you are able to do. Which is typically not simple, as a result of a whole lot of guys simply provide you with the thought that they will be the brand new Remco and it’s not like that. So then you need to discover your spot, really feel pleased with your self, really feel completely satisfied within the crew and that’s an important, I believe that it’s not all the time simple to seek out this.
Greg and Remco
PEZ: And what of the younger Belgian guys? Evenepoel and now Cian Uijtdebroeks?
Evenepoel is at a distinct degree, he has proved that already. Uijtdebroeks has to make his personal profession, he’s not the identical as Remco, that’s for positive. That’s not doable. He can’t be ‘the second Evenepoel’ not possible. He’ll be rider.
PEZ: The following Evenepoel? He’s solely 22, how will you have the following Evenepoel?
Issues go quick today.
PEZ: What do you continue to need?
I nonetheless need to put my profession on notice. You understand, I believe this final two years I used to be not so pleased with my outcomes. So I need to be a bit of bit higher than the final two years. I need to be on an honest degree, like using finals, possibly not successful anymore, I don’t assume that’s the largest factor. I hope to win, in fact, I nonetheless need win some races, however it might be good if I can journey Classics within the ultimate. Find yourself with fifth or fourth, however being a part of the race. Final yr, there was so much between fifteenth and twentieth in each Classics, I used to be third in Het Nieuwsblad, which was my finest consequence, however I used to be by no means actually within the race. That for me is an important and that’s what I nonetheless need, getting within the ultimate after which… yeah we are going to see.
PEZ: So how do you encourage your self?
Simply to know that I nonetheless can do it, simply nonetheless imagine that it might nonetheless occur, that I can do race, and likewise the fervour for using my bike, I nonetheless similar to to journey my bike, it’s not that I hate to exit. So for me, it’s simply nonetheless a bit of pastime to exit and that’s really an important. In case you actually prefer it, it’s not my work. Typically you may say it’s laborious. Yeah, however then after an effort I can say I preferred it, really.
Van Avermaet and Van Aert in Quebec
PEZ: Do you journey Zwift at house?
Not that a lot. More often than not I’m trying to find good climate and I additionally prefer to journey within the rain typically. I all the time plan my coaching on the climate circumstances after which when it’s unhealthy day, I simply exit. Typically I journey Zwift. I believe it’s an ideal concept for individuals who work, however work for me is using my bike, so I’ve time to exit.
The digital Flanders win for Van Avermaet
PEZ: Then you definitely see they discovered Jay Vine by means of Zwift.
Yeah, it’s loopy, really. I believe it’s an ideal device for individuals who work after which afterwards they’ll do one thing when it’s darkish, particularly in international locations in wintertime the place it’s darkish at 5 o’clock, they’ll nonetheless do one thing, I believe it’s additionally the sort of factor that individuals who didn’t know they’d expertise, can uncover they’ve expertise. Lots of people don’t know the way good they’re, as a result of you don’t have any clue. Whenever you’re simply using you don’t have any clue in the event you go quick or sluggish (in comparison with others), you’re feeling it’s laborious, however that’s the identical for everyone. However then I believe on Zwift, in the event you do the Zwift races, you could possibly discover out that you simply’re really fairly good. You possibly can begin believing in a profession and I believe that’s how some riders now can can get by means of on simply numbers. It’s device, for instance, if we had been on on the identical time we may journey collectively. It provides sort of feeling that you may journey along with a professional after which you may journey it with a buddy or one thing. I don’t use it as a lot. No, I’ve simply an excessive amount of time to journey my bike outdoors.
PEZ: The lack of BMC was a disgrace for lots of causes, it was a very good crew. Do you miss it?
I miss it for positive. It was an ideal crew and I’m tremendous completely satisfied that BMC, the model, adopted me to AG2R. As a result of we’re nonetheless using the BMC bike and that half sort of makes me really feel like a bit of bit reference to the previous crew. And I’m virtually the final man, I believe, from the crew that also rides a BMC bike. So, that’s sort of cool.
Van Avermaet and Gilbert – Totally different groups in 2019
PEZ: Whenever you and Philippe Gilbert had been in the identical crew, was that an issue?
Probably not an enormous drawback, no. I believe we have now a whole lot of respect for one another. However sooner or later he had his huge wins and I additionally had a whole lot of ambitions. It’s not like we had a private drawback, we had been coming good collectively. Now once we see one another we are saying hello and we converse, we’re fairly good buddies, really. However in that interval, you recognize if in case you have two formidable folks, typically it’s not simple. I believe we didn’t have huge issues, however typically it was like; ‘I simply need to have my likelihood’ and I believe that’s regular. It’s regular stuff that occurs on this planet and never all the time every thing will be like high-quality and good. I believe an important factor is that we got here out sturdy, me and him, and we have now nonetheless have relationship collectively.
Hugo Web page, Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert in Binche-Chimay-Binche 2022
PEZ: What, for you, was your greatest win? The Olympics?
For me the Olympics. It was tremendous vital for me. It was in 2016, I received a stage within the Tour and a few races, however for me, that was the factor, you recognize, the largest win for my profession, which I labored laborious for and eventually it arrived. Additionally it’s one thing particular, as a result of you may say this and that about two levels within the tour, however for me, personally, the Olympics. Not everyone has it and that’s one thing particular for me.
PEZ: I believe it means extra to most of the people.
Yeah, in the event you go someplace and also you say Olympic champion. They acknowledge that.
PEZ: You additionally received the WorldTour in 2017.
Yeah, that was huge additionally, but it surely’s solely biking. Okay it was additionally laborious and I’m additionally fairly pleased with it as a result of to complete the primary finest rider on the finish of the yr. It’s one thing you recognize, as a result of I additionally simply began to be a professional and if you are able to do that, it’s fairly superb additionally.
PEZ: Are you glad you didn’t stick with soccer?
Yeah, positive. It’s query. Yeah, I used to be goalkeeper, however typically folks ask me this after which I all the time say; ‘however in all probability if I stayed a soccer participant, I’d by no means attain that degree I’ve now,’ so it was a good selection.
Gravel Worlds 2022
PEZ: What about gravel?
I prefer it. I by no means did it in competitors till the Worlds, however I really like to journey my bike off highway. I typically go gravel/mountain bike in my coaching. So it’s one thing that I actually like, however I simply couldn’t do as a result of my highway programme was all the time too full. I used to be tremendous completely satisfied when BMC requested me and I used to be in a position to do it with AG2R. It was an ideal occasion and I wish to perform a little bit extra.
PEZ: The gravel Worlds was possibly not just like the gravel scene in America.
No, no it’s a distinct race I believe. To begin with I believe in America is much more altitude metres and it’s more durable. The Worlds right here had been extra technical, however we are going to see. I wish to do a number of extra. Will probably be enjoyable.
That moto in San Sebastián
PEZ: Any regrets? Other than the bike within the San Sebastián Traditional
No, really no. Ah, Sebastian and the crash in Flanders additionally. There it was the collarbone, if it wasn’t for that, I’d have been near win Flanders I believe. However regrets you may’t have in life.
PEZ: Final query. The tiramisu at BMC was well-known, is it any good right here?
No. No deserts for the second, there’s solely fruit and yogurt. Laborious life. However I earlier than the coaching camp I all the time eat some dessert.
The well-known BMC tiramisu
* Because of Greg for his time and Valentin Jacquemet for organising the interview. AG2R Citroën ought to do tiramisu for journalists. *