Greg Van Avermaet has revealed that he will change team for 2021 after admitting he has “no options” for the future at CCC Team. The Olympic champion has already given the green light to his agent to start serious negotiations with other teams to secure the best possible contract.
CCC Team manager Jim Ochowicz has been looking for a new title sponsor for several months after Polish showed brand CCC confirmed it could not respect its sponsorship contract due to the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus on its business. Ochowicz confirmed in June several potential sponsors were interested and hoped to have something in place before the start of the Tour de France on August 29.
Following its unsuccessful attempt to buy the Mitchelton-Scott team, Spanish NGO Manuela Fundación is reported to be in advanced talks with CCC Team, with reports that it is ready to invest €10 million a year to secure a major investment in the outfit. It is not clear if those talks have broken down or if a deal has been reached, but on the eve of Milan-San Remo, Van Avermaet has decided to confirm that he will move on.
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CCC Team told Cyclingnews they are still working hard on trying to find a new sponsor, but with the UCI transfer window officially open from August 1, they confirmed that riders are free to pursue other options, hence Van Avermaet’s decision to speak out.
"I've given my manager the green light to look at other teams. I have no options in this team anymore," Van Avermaet told Sporza on Friday before his final training ride for Milan-San Remo in the suburbs of the Italian city.
"At the moment it does not look like this team will continue. Jim Ochowicz keeps looking, but I can't wait. Other possibilities now need to be worked out in detail. I hope it will be completed in a few weeks."
Van Avermaet has already been linked with AG2R La Mondiale, which has secured extra sponsorship from car manufacturer Citroen, while Israel Start-Up Nation has also shown interest after securing Chris Froome to lead its Grand Tour challenge in 2021.
"Different teams are interested. It is important for my manager Dries Smets to work out everything and to put forward a concrete offer. Then I can make a decision," Van Avermaet said.
"I'll try to get the best out of it, financially and also on the sporting side."
Van Avermaet has won Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad during his successful career. The Tour of Flanders continues to elude the 2016 Olympic road race champion, but he is still considered one of the best Classics riders in the peloton and a charismatic team leader. He was distanced by his younger rivals at Strade Bianche but is expected to be a contender in the Classics rescheduled for October.
Van Avermaet will lead CCC Team at Milan-San Remo with Matteo Trentin and is hopeful the new inland route and smaller six-rider teams will create a more aggressive race and more opportunities for attacks.
"It's a different situation and a different time for the race but Milan-San Remo feels like it does every year," he said. "There are always very good riders at the start. The course is not 100 per cent suited to me but if there is a chance, I'll go for it.
"I've gone close a few times, but this is not an easy race to win but I'm confident. The heat may also be in my favour, it's a little cooler than last week but it's a long race, so it will be a factor." He hopes an attack will go clear on or even before the late climb of the Poggio. "Hopefully a small group can get away and then anything can happen," he said.