The Argentinean city of Villa Mercedes has been a fruitful hunting ground for Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) at the Tour de San Luis. A year after coming to the attention of the wider world by beating Mark Cavendish, the 21-year-old took another major scalp when he bested World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) into the same city.
Gaviria’s success has made him a hot prospect in South America and, unsurprisingly, comparisons between the young Colombian and his two sprinting counterparts were quick to be made. Gaviria, however, was more modest about his achievements and abilities, saying that it was much too soon to consider himself in the same realm as Cavendish and Sagan.
“I don’t think I’m at the level of the stars yet, I need to have won the same things that they have,” Gaviria said after the stage. “Sagan is a World Champion, Cavendish was also one and he has won Milan-San Remo, multiple stages of the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. I’m missing more victories, I want to take as many victories as I can, to do my utmost and I always want to win."
Gaviria jumped onto the scene at last year’s race when he beat Cavendish not once but twice, proving that he had the turn of speed to beat the best in the world. Etixx-QuickStep were quick to snap him up and he rewarded their faith with a stage win at the Tour of Britain last September. He is still in the early stages of his career, with the Tour de San Luis his first race as a full-time professional. Yet, he had already proved himself a safe pair of hands for any team.
“I think that both their characteristics are similar to mine,” he added when asked whether he saw himself more like Cavendish or Sagan. “I’m a sprinter, I’m fast and my objective is to win. I also want to be in good shape to try and take victories so I think that are characteristics are very much the same.”
Prior to the race, Gaviria had said that he was feeling the pressure to back up his performances of last year. There was no evidence of that in Villa Mercedes as he eased over the line after he was placed on the front perfectly with just 100 metres to go by Maximiliano Richeze.
Gaviria no doubt has a glittering career ahead of him with his prime years still somewhere in the future. For Gaviria, the future is something for other people to worry about. He is just happy to do what he’s already doing.
“I don’t like thinking about the future,” he said. “I prefer to live right now and to enjoy the moment. In the future, Villa Mercedes is maybe seen as the city that made me a professional. After the first time, when I was able to beat Cavendish, the professional teams were interested in me.”
Living in the now, Gaviria and his team have the leader’s jersey to defend for another day. Stage 3 to La Punta could be another chance for a stage victory but it’s far from straightforward with the climb of El Mirador del Potrero to contend with inside the final 20 kilometres.