Olympic champion pedals in to the Tour de Yorkshire

On the podium: Rio Olympics champion Greg van Avermaet, centre.
On the podium: Rio Olympics champion Greg van Avermaet, centre.
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The growing reputation of the Tour de Yorkshire was underlined yesterday with the announcement that the reigning Olympic road race champion will take his place on the startline in Beverley on Thursday week.

Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet confirmed his participation in the fourth annual staging of the race early next month, with the news coming hot on the heels of Mark Cavendish’s declaration that is fit enough to fulfil his vow to make his debut in the race.

It will be the second time Van Avermaet has cycled the Tour de Yorkshire, though when he last came to the county for the inaugural race in 2015, he was not the force he has now become.

Since that seventh place finish three years ago, Van Avermaet has won the Olympic road race in Rio, two stages of the Tour de France and the Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic.

The 32-year-old rides for BMC Racing, one of six World Tour teams contesting the four-day Tour de Yorkshire.

While Cavendish will target the sprint stages into Doncaster on stage one and Scarborough on day three, Van Avermaet will be a contender to challenge on the race’s first summit finish on the Cow and Calf in Ilkley on day two, and over the punchy final stage into Leeds on the Sunday.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Greg is one of the most exciting, classy and respected riders in the sport and will, no doubt, animate the four days of racing. The final stage should certainly suit him and I look forward to seeing him in action.

“The word has definitely got around the peloton that the Tour de Yorkshire offers huge crowds and exciting racing, and having riders of Greg’s calibre in attendance will be a huge draw.”