On a hectic stage 2 at the Tour de Suisse, Fernando Gaviria opened his sprint too soon and let the door open for Peter Sagan to take his 16th stage win of the race. The Colombian hung on for second place but his wait for a first European win of the season continues.
Gaviria was well placed coming into the final kilometer, neatly tucked behind the wheel of teammate Yves Lampaert as the remnants of the bunch closed in on the finish line. However, with almost 300 meters to go Gaviria swung out and opened his sprint. It proved to be a mistake with Sagan not only wise to the move but more than capable of jumping onto the Colombian's wheel before powering through to take the win.
Gaviria was able to hang onto second, with Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) taking a creditable third. Midway through his post-race debrief, as he sat outside the Quick-Step Floors team bus, Gaviria waved Cyclingnews through the crowd of fans to offer his take on how the stage played out.
"Today wasn't just about the sprint. It was really hard out there with lots of small climbs and a really fast lap. I had good legs, I tried to win but Peter was simply faster than me. I also went too soon and that's cycling. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but the feelings were good and when I have another opportunity I'll try again."
On a punishing four-lap circuit several teams attempted to soften up the pure sprinters, with Gaviria at the top of their hitlist. Sunweb, and eventually Bora-Hansgrohe were particularly aggressive, and although Gaviria made the cut – unlike John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff – he was left without a full quota of teammates as the final few kilometres began. The loss of Philippe Gilbert to a puncture was key and when late attacks skipped clear in the final 10 kilometres Gaviria was forced to send Maximiliano Richeze up the road. Richeze marked several moves and when the front of the race reformed Gaviria was still the man to beat.
"When Philippe had a flat tyre that made it more difficult because we had one guy less. Then Max attacked because we felt it was better to have one teammate in front, even though he wasn't pulling. That meant I had one guy left for the sprint, in Lampaert and he did a really good job but I went too early.
"I don't know where I went from, it was further out than 150 meters. When I went through I touched Stefan Kung and then I also touched Peter. That meant that I had left speed. Then I started the sprint and had some good speed but it was too soon."
There is no shame in losing a bunch sprint to Peter Sagan, of course, and Gaviria has had a successful season to date. Despite missing out on the spring classics through injury he has stacked up eight victories, and although none of them have come in mainland Europe he remains confident for the days and weeks to come. There will be more opportunities in Switzerland and of course plenty more when he begins his first Tour de France in July.
"I'm happy with my condition. This was a really hard stage. I finished second and I'm happy because I wasn't that pleased with my ride in the TTT yesterday. This was better from me."
There's more to come from Gaviria, clearly.
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