Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) joked that his desire to end his 2017 season as quickly as possible and head home to Colombia had given him the strength and speed needed to win stage 1 of the Tour of Guangxi. It was the 11th win of a remarkable season that included four stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and the points jersey in his first ever Grand Tour.
While Caleb Ewan has enjoyed a six-week break before heading to China, the final WorldTour race of the season comes after a long block of racing in the second half of 2017 for Gaviria.
“I found the strength to win from knowing that when I finish this race I can finally go home. The Tour of Guangxi is the last race of the year for me,” joked Gaviria, who was happy to take the leader’s red jersey, the best young rider white jersey and celebrate on the podium with teammate Remi Cavagna, who took the green mountains jersey after being the last rider in the break to be caught.
“It was a hard race: a short stage, fast and at the end one of the craziest sprints. It’s one of the fastest sprints I’ve ever done. I’m delighted to take a win in the last race of the year, which is the Tour of Guangxi. We’ve started off the right way and we’ll see how things go for the rest of the race. There are a lot of good sprinters here but I’m still hungry. Now my first goal is to recover from the heat and the traveling.”
Gaviria arrived late in China due to visa problems but the Quick-Step Floors team protected him during the 107km flat stage. Having Cavagna in the break meant the team could avoid doing any work at the front of the peloton.
“It was excellent strategy to have Remi Cavagna riding hard at the front. He was one of the strongest riders today. It wasn’t a tactic though, it happened by coincidence,” Gaviria explained.
“There was a small gap in the bunch that left four riders ahead. But in the end it made a difference. We told him to try to make it alone to the finish but when we caught him we were fresh for the sprint.”
Classics and Tour de France sprints the goals for 2018
Gaviria is looking forward to some time at home in Colombia but knows his 2018 season will start early. He spent time in Belgium with the Quick-Step Floors management recently to plan his racing calendar and his major goals. Gaviria will share sprinting duties with new signing Elia Viviani but intends to play a leading role in the early-season Classics and then at the Tour de France.
Gaviria is expected to start his 2018 season at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina in late January.
“For next year, we already have a clear vision of the objectives and the calendar. We’ll prepare for the classics in Colombia and Argentina,” he confirmed.
“We’ll try to go to Europe in the best possible shape for the Classics, after which we’ll start thinking of the Tour. My goals are the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.”