Fernando Gaviria will undergo tests at the Bakala Academy next week as Etixx-QuickStep’s Patrick Lefevere steps up his pursuit of the Colombian sprinter.
Gaviria won two stages at the Tour de San Luis last month, beating Mark Cavendish in the process. A number of WorldTour teams immediately enquired about the future of the 20-year-old. Lefevere’s team were installed as the early favourites to sign the rider and the transfer has moved a step closer.
“He’s coming to us after the weekend to do some tests. He’s in Paris to do the track World Championships and then from there he’ll come to Kortrijk. We’ll have a talk, do some tests and then he will return to Colombia,’ Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
“We’ll try to sign him if the tests are good but we’ll of course respect his plans for the Olympics.”
Even if a deal is done in the coming weeks the chances of Gavaria signing as a stagiaire for the remainder of the season in a post-Olympic programme are slim.
"We didn’t talk about that. Not yet. With stagiaires doing the road Worlds, they often ride the Tour d L’Avenir so you only see them once or twice and I don’t know if it’s too hard to make him a stagiaire," Lefevere said.
Contract negotiations with Mark Cavendish
While Lefevere has one eye on the long-term future of his team his attention will soon turn to his current sprint star, Mark Cavendish and the British rider’s contract situation.
Cavendish joined the team on an initial three-year deal but his contract is up for re-newel at the end of 2015. The British rider has enjoyed a strong start to the season with wins at the Tour de San Luis, the Dubai Tour and the Clásica de Almería, but both Lefevere and his star rider will be aware that true success will be judged on results in the WorldTour.
“I don’t speak to riders in January or February. Everyone likes Mark, he likes the team but it’s about money and it’s about winning,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews.
“He’s been winning a lot this year but things really start with Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem. After that we’ll maybe start speaking but we can’t hide the fact that the Tour de France is also really important.”
Last year Cavendish, who has amassed 25 individual stage victories in the Tour, crashed out on stage one of the race. It was the first time he had failed to win a stage in the race since his debut in 2007.
Lefevere would not speculate on how the negotiations could play out but he has already invested heavily in a leadout train for Cavendish and dismantling such a roster could prove problematic and it's highly unlikely that Lefevere would release Cavendish merely to replace him with a virtually unproven talent.
However, he added: "If Mark is beaten five times by Kittel then we’ll have another discussion. He’s a really popular rider, he’s a star but if you don’t win then your star starts to fade. We’re professionals, I’m a professional, he’s a professional and we have to sit down as grown up and speak. But it’s too early to speak about this.”