Alessandro Petacchi has described Fernando Gaviria as the new Peter Sagan, with the 2005 Milan-San Remo winner revealing he is ready to share the secrets of how to win the first monument of the season with the Colombian sprinter.
Gaviria has agreed to rent an apartment from Petacchi in Lido di Camaiore on the Tuscan coast. He will move in after next week's Volta ao Algarve, and Petacchi is ready to offer some advice on how to tackle Milan-San Remo as part of the rental agreement.
"Fernando wants to base himself in Italy. I'm close friends with his Quick-Step Floors teammate Fabio Sabatini and he asked if my place was available. I also spoke to Gaviria's agent Giovanni Lombardi and it was all arranged quickly. I understand he wants to have his family there," Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport, confirming he will be the Quick-Step Floors rider's landlord.
Petacchi was known as a power sprinter during his long career. He won 121 races, often launching his sprint after a high-speed lead-out from his teammates. Gaviria can win thanks to a lead-out as he showed at the recent Vuelta a San Juan but his track skills, learnt while winning two Omnium world titles, means he has a wider range of sprinting talents. He attacked in the final kilometre to win Paris-Tours at the end of 2016.
"I think he's the new Sagan, he's phenomenal. I really like his natural talent, the way he moves in the peloton," Petacchi said.
Gaviria crashed in the final kilometre of last year's Milan-San Remo, when he had a great chance of winning on his debut in the Italian Classic. Petacchi is convinced he can win La Primavera this year.
"I'm sure he'll be a protagonist this year and in the sprints at the Giro d'Italia. He's a year older, he's more confident in his ability and has the support of a really strong team," Petacchi suggested.
"I'd picked him as my favourite last year because I'd see how well he was riding at Tirreno-Adriatico. With the finish back on the Via Roma, the rising road suited him perfectly.
"He closed a gap on his own in the last kilometre and so had the legs to win. I worked out why he crashed: he was on the right but wanted to be on the left to avoid being closed, and to use the width of the road for his sprint. When he moved, he touched Van Avermaet's wheel. He cried afterwards because he knew he could have won it."
Milan-San Remo advice
Petacchi first met Gaviria at a sportive event in Panama in 2015 and was immediately impressed. Now 43, Petacchi still rides his bike frequently and is ready to share his experience and secrets of Milan-San Remo with Gaviria during rides near the Tuscan coast.
"He hasn't asked me but if he does I'd be happy to give him some advice. I know Milan-San Remo inside out, I know where to be in the peloton in specific moments of the race to save energy that are useful in the finale. He's doing so well so far that I'm not fully convinced that he even needs my advice."
To subscribe to the Cyclingnews Podcast, click here.