Gaviria: I am ready to move up a notch in 2018

Quick-Step Floors sprinter keen to build on his successful 2017 season

After ending his 2017 season with four stage victories at the Tour of Guangxi WorldTour race in China, Fernando Gaviria is finally enjoying the off-season at home in Colombia, understandably proud of his season.

The 23-year-old Colombian won 14 races in 2017, including four stages at the Giro d’Italia, where he also wore the leader’s pink jersey for a day and won the ciclamino points jersey. His Classics campaign was arguably below par and he was hugely disappointed to finish eighth in the World Championships behind Peter Sagan but Gaviria prefers to remember the highs rather the lows.

"My season has been quite long this year, starting in January at the Vuelta a San Juan and ending in October at the Tour of Guangxi. What I am really proud of is that I was able to win in the very first and last race I did," Gaviria said in an interview published by his Quick-Step Floors team.

"Generally, looking back at this season, my second as a pro, I am really pleased with how it all played out, especially having in mind I was out for a while during the season with an injury in my left leg, which wasn't great timing for building up for the second part of the season. However, 14 victories – a double up of last year – including four Giro d'Italia wins and the points jersey is something I am very proud of.”

Unhappy about Bergen

A calf injury caused when Gaviria’s foot came out of his pedal in training disrupted his summer and surgery was needed to relieve a hematoma, but he worked hard and recovered, winning a stage at the Tour of Britain before riding an aggressive at the World Championships in Bergen. He perhaps wasted his strength by going with attacks in the final five kilometres and was rightly angry with his performance at the time.

"I made some mistakes because I really wanted to win. Those mistakes cost me in the end," Gaviria admitted to Cyclingnews immediately after the race.

Gaviria revealed that he was not at his best in Bergen due to the effects of his calf injury. "I was really focused on doing well at the World Championships and I did a big effort after my injury to get back in condition – a month of hard, hard training – but I wasn't at my 100 percent in Bergen. However, that is also cycling and something you have to get over quickly so you can start focus on the next goals," he said, already looking forward to 2018 rather than back to 2017.

"I want to be the best rider in the world, that is my goal and drive, and to be the best you have to win. I think this is what keeps me motivated to push harder in training and at races over the course of a whole season, especially at times where it is difficult," he said.

Turning it up a notch in 2018

Gaviria won 14 races in 2017, equalling teammate and fellow sprinter Marcel Kittel. The two will be rivals in 2018 and are expected to clash in the Tour de France sprints after Kittel opted to leave Quick-Step Floors for Katusha-Alpecin. Gaviria will share the sprinting responsibilities with new signing and fellow track rider Elia Viviani, who joins from Team Sky.

"I have had a great race-program this year and next year I am ready to move up a notch and ride the biggest races," Gaviria said.

"I think I can beat this year, although I am more than happy with the outcome and for all the victories I have enjoyed with the team."

Having raced so late into the season, Gaviria intends to take a break in November before starting training for 2018 on his home roads.

"My off-season will be spent with family time and some holidays with some friends before I start preparing for next season, a year I look very much forward to. But for now, I need some rest, both for my body and head, before I start focusing on the big goals of 2018," he said.

"Now I am back in Colombia where I will stay until the December training camp in Europe. I live with my father and mother in the small town of La Ceja, which is located about 40 kilometres from Medellin, where my sister lives, who is pregnant with a baby boy, so I am soon to be an uncle, which is very exciting!"

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