Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was disappointed to have a mistake lead to a third place finish in the sprint on stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico but sportingly accepted defeat and congratulated his good friend and respected rival Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) on his victory in Foligno.
"I tried to set up the sprint as best I could, but I made a mistake and so Elia won. I can only congratulate him," Gaviria said.
"I was in the wrong position and started my sprint a little late. Elia jumped before me and got it just right. I'm still happy but know I could have done better."
Gaviria was ahead of Viviani going into the testing final kilometres but the high-speed shuffle in the series of corners left him on Viviani's wheel on the exit of the last sweeping last corner. When the Italian champion accelerated out of the saddle in sight of the finish line, Gaviria did not have the speed or position to even try to go around him. He went shoulder to shoulder with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) but the photo finish showed he was third.
"We tried to win, but it was a complicated sprint with all the corners in the city streets. That's sprinting, that's cycling, today there were two great riders that were stronger than me. I have to accept that," Gaviria admitted, preferring to find the positive aspects of the long day in the saddle.
"There's not much else I could do. I'm just happy that I could sprint after 230km of racing and understand I'm on good shape for Milan-San Remo."
Friends before rivals
Sprinters often fight for position in the final kilometres, using their elbows and even heads to hold off or displace their rivals to take the best lead-out to the line. The competition is intense and adrenaline-fueled in the heat of the moment, occasionally leading to disputes and arguments. However, the current generation of sprinters appear to be friends as much as they are rivals.
Sagan was quick to congratulate Viviani on his victory, and Gaviria also stopped to congratulate the Italian. Gaviria and Viviani have competed against each other on the track and in numerous roads sprints. They refuse to give an inch when sprinting at 70km/h but remain loyal friends and avoid putting each other in danger.
"We're friends and he's a great rider. I'm not sad that Viviani beat me, that's life, that's sport," Gaviria explained.
It seems sprinters can be friends and rivals.
"I think so," Gaviria confirmed.
"I'm friends with almost everyone in the peloton; we talk all stage but then we sprint against each other at high speed. We're not fierce rivals, this is just sport."