Track World Championships: Gaviria defends omnium title after "epic battle"

Points race secures back-to-back rainbow jerseys for Colombian

Fernando Gaviria described the final round of the men's Omnium at the Track World Championships as an "epic battle" and he took great pride in being able to emerge victoriously and defend his world title.

"This jersey gives me great pride, being able to repeat it, two years on the run is something amazing,"  the 21-year-old told Cyclingnews after the points race which concluded the omnium. "It was an epic battle. The riders went all out. Everyone was really strong, and it's a great honour to retain the title.

"I'm a bit crazy, I don't think much about the race and try to do it as well as possible, to be as calm as possible not to commit silly errors that at my age would be normal to make."

Gaviria's title defence didn't get off to the best of starts on Friday as he finished down in 10th in the scratch race, later citing nerves after several months away from the track.

It didn't take him long to find his groove, however, and he won both the individual pursuit and elimination race before taking second in the kilo on Saturday afternoon and overhauling Italian Elia Viviani in the points race.

"The Omnium started badly for me. I started with fear, with nerves about getting caught up in a crash – I didn't want the same thing as last year to happen," he explained. "But then we were able to make the most of the strength I had in my legs, and take another victory."

While the Italian rode a passive race, Gaviria needed to be aggressive if he was claim a second rainbow jersey. 12-months prior, Gaviria was ninth in the points race with his overall victory all but assured but with numerous riders still in contention for the victory late in the 160-lap event, Gaviria explained the strategy behind his winning tactics.

"It was a difficult race, it was an aggressive one. At the end the legs were good, the German [Kluge] was close at the end but I was able to get past him at the end and crown myself champion," said Gaviria who took the world title courtesy of winning the final sprint.

"He went when we weren't paying attention and there was nothing we could do about it. He managed to get the lap but going after him would have been a waste of my resources.

"It's complicated because we don't know how our rivals are going to be but we went out there trying to win and we did it."

Omnium victory ensures that Gaviria's odds to claim gold in the event at the Rio Olympics had significantly shortened but before the August event, Gaviria is firmly focused on further road success.

"It's too far away at the moment. I'm thinking primarily about my races in Belgium and after that I'll start thinking about the Olympics," he said.

Milan-San Remo

Gaviria started his first full season as a professional at the Tour de San Luis, where he won two stages last year and was duly snapped by Patrick Lefevere, helping Etixx-Quick Step to the opening day team time trial victory and winning the stage 2 sprint. A stage win at the Tour Cycliste International La Provence followed, a day after put aside personal ambition to gift leadout man Davide Martinelli his first professional victory.

With his successful omnium defence, the Colombian will again turn his attention to the road, with several key early-season European races on his radar.

"The seasons's going well, we've started really well and let's hope we keep improving. Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, and the Belgian Classics," said Gaviria, who dreams of one day winning Paris-Roubaix.

Of those races, it is the first monument of the season that most entices Gaviria.

"I've seen the route, the hardest parts, the Cipressa and the Poggio. It's a race I like because it's demanding, it's long. So I want to do it as part of my development and to be in a big classic," he added.

Asked of his expectations at La Classicissima di primavera, Gaviria modestly answered to "finish it". There have been several riders who have claimed success in San Remo on their attempt, former teammate Mark Cavendish a recent example in 2009 when he won a photo finish sprint over Heinrich Haussler.

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