(Brussels) “My adventure with professional cycling ends after this season”, announced Wednesday Greg Van Avermaet, whose career has been marked by an Olympic title, a Paris-Roubaix and a great regret, never having won the Tour of Flanders.

At 37, the Belgian will arrive in six months at the end of his contract with the French team AG2R for which he has still not raised his arms since his arrival from BMC training in 2021.

“A great adventure is ending and I’m a little sad. This decision was very difficult to make, but when I look in the rear view mirror, I am extremely proud of my achievements. I gave the best of myself every day, just to have no regrets, ”he explained, quoted in the press release from his team.

Van Avermaet has therefore decided to turn the page of a rich career including an Olympic coronation in Rio in 2016, a Paris-Roubaix (2017), a Ghent-Wevelgem (2017) or two successes of stages on the Tour de France of which he wore the yellow jersey in 2016 then 2018.

But the Tour of Flanders, the Holy Grail for a Flanders, has always refused him even though he has passed very close three times.

“In 2014, I lost in the sprint against Cancellara, he recalled recently. In 2016, I crashed and broke my collarbone when that day, I really had feelings to win. And in 2017, with the fall in Old Kwaremont, when Philippe Gilbert was still ahead, I felt like it was still possible to win.”

“These are the editions where it was possible to win. It’s like that. I never did and it’s over. But I can live with that, ”assured the puncheur, philosopher.

He consoled himself with five podiums in this Cycling Monument (twice second and three times third).

But for several seasons, Van Avermaet has hardly been at the party.

“My last victory? It’s been too long ! It was in Montreal in 2019, he recalled recently. The cut linked to COVID-19 is one of the explanations. I lost almost a year. I never really got back to my normal level.”

Turning professional in 2007 with the Lotto team, Van Avermaet revealed himself the following year by winning the points classification of the Tour of Spain at the age of 23, demonstrating his abilities as a sprinter and above all as a puncher.

He reached his peak in 2017, the year in which he occupied the world number one spot in the UCI ranking after successes at the Hell of the North, on Ghent-Wevelgem, Het Nieuwsblad or the E3 Grand Prix. .

At the start of 2023, he still didn’t want to hear about retirement.

“I still have the passion. I love biking. I still have ambition. I hope I still have something in my legs to do a good result, “he said.

His best result this season, a third place at Circuit Het Nieuwsblad, was probably deemed insufficient to continue beyond this season.

“Greg Van Avermaet is a great champion […] His involvement, his professionalism and his human values ​​have been remarkable: he is an example for our entire team. He will have marked us both as an athlete, but also as a man, “said his sports director Vincent Lavenu.