Van Avermaet on track for spring classics return

Greg Van Avermaet is confident he'll be back to top form in time for the spring classics after breaking his ankle in training this fall.

Olympic gold medalist Greg Van Avermaet is on track to be ready to race the spring classics following surgery in November.

The 31-year-old Belgian went under the knife November 14 after fracturing his left ankle, and doctors cleared him Wednesday to begin training on rollers, setting him up for a likely return to form in time for the Belgian classics.

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“It will be another seven-to-ten days before Greg can ride on the road,” said BMC Racing team doctor Max Testa in a team release. “His recovery is going as planned … [and we] will begin to increase his training load day by day.”

Van Avermaet enjoyed a highly successful 2016 campaign, with wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, GP Montréal, a stage and the overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, a Tour de France stage, all capped off with the gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He suffered a fracture following a mountain bike crash earlier this month.

Van Avermaet is hopeful to be fully recovered in time to take on the spring classics, where he will be the outright leader following the departure of Philippe Gilbert to Quick-Step Floors.

“Everything is going fine. When I ride easy on the rollers I don’t have any pain,” Van Avermaet said. “I think my ankle will heal faster now and by next week hopefully I can do more. We will see how it goes.”

Van Avermaet said he is already looking forward to the spring classics, including the Ronde van Vlaanderen following the confirmation of the 2017 route from organizers Wednesday. Significant changes to the route include a new start in Antwerp, as well as the return of the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

“I look forward to the start and then the Muur van Geraardsbergen, as it’s a climb I like,” he said. “It’s a good thing that they didn’t change the last 80km because it’s pretty important that they keep it the same. I like the final, and we will see how it plays out, but I think the 2017 race has a nice parcours.”