Gaviria shifts gears to focus on Giro d'Italia debut

Colombian heads home to prepare for maiden Grand Tour start

Quick-Step Floors' Fernando Gaviria has put the Classics in the rearview mirror and will now return home to Colombia to begin the build-up to his Giro d'Italia debut, according to an update posted on the team's website Tuesday.

Gaviria, 22, finished fifth at Milan-San Remo and ninth at Gent-Wevelgem, in addition to being a part of Quick-Step's race-winning lineup at Dwars door Vlaanderen. With those one-day appearances in the bag, he is turning the page from his short Classics campaign and looking ahead to his first ever Grand Tour start in Italy this May.

"Fernando made another step in his apprenticeship in the one-day races, and now the time has come for him to recover and focus on the Giro d'Italia," said Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere via a team release. "We consider his first part of the season a successful one: He racked up four wins and was in the top 10 at both Classics he's done.

"By going home now, he will have plenty of time to take benefit of the altitude in native Colombia and build a nice training schedule for the Giro, which will mark another step in his development."

Sprinter-friendly days in stage races have been a productive environment for Gaviria in his young career. His four victories thus far in 2017 have all come in one-week events, including a WorldTour level triumph at Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this month. Although his Classics appearances did not yield any personal victories, the Colombian and his team are content with the progress he showed surviving long days on the bike to deliver respectable sprint results.

"It's been a nice experience to be again part of Quick-Step Floors' Classics team," Gaviria said. "Finishing San Remo in the top five and coming ninth at Gent-Wevelgem was really special. I got to learn better the roads of Belgium and to understand how things work in these races. I wish my teammates all the best for Flanders and Roubaix, and I hope Tom [Boonen] will get his fifth Roubaix.

"For me, the Giro d'Italia has become the top priority, and my desire is to line out at the start fresh and focused, so starting my training early in April is the best decision."

With Gaviria as the featured sprinter in the Italian Grand Tour, Quick-Step also figures to have a young, rising talent battling in the general classification in Bob Jungels. The 24-year-old from Luxembourg finished sixth overall and won the youth classification in the 2016 edition of the race.

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