Fernando Gaviria’s participation in the Tour de France is touch and go, with UAE Team Emirates putting his chances at 50-50 as he attempts to reach full fitness after a knee injury. Meanwhile, Fabio Aru, who underwent iliac artery surgery in April, could be drafted in to the Tour team depending on his performance in the Tour de Suisse.
Gaviria injured his knee in April when he crashed on the track in Colombia, where he was competing to earn qualification points for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
He started the Giro d’Italia and won a stage after Elia Viviani was relegated, but the knee problem flared up and he was forced out of the race on stage 7.
After a period of rest and medical treatment in Germany, Gaviria returned to his native Colombia and has been building up his training again in the past two weeks. However, he has not done any intensity or specific sprint efforts. He has flown to Monaco this week and is now ramping up his training in that respect.
UAE Team Emirates will monitor his progress and make a decision on Tour de France participation on Monday.
"At the moment, honestly, it’s 50-50," team manager Joxean Fernandez Matxin told Cyclingnews.
"We don’t yet know how well the training is going. In the coming days he’ll be doing specific training, and we will have a better idea.
"We have a lot of data that we’ll be working towards, such as his power numbers, peak power, muscle mass, and once we can see exactly where he is, we’ll take the decision."
Losing Gaviria would represent a significant blow for the team, given the Colombian won two stages and wore the yellow jersey on his Tour de France debut last year. However, they have another sprint option in Alexander Kristoff, who won the final stage on the Champs Elysees last year. The 31-year-old won the GP du Canton d’Argovie and a stage and the overall at the Tour of Norway recently, but his best result so fart the Tour de Suisse – which has featured three sprints – is sixth.
While Gaviria's Tour is in doubt due to the lingering effects of injury, Fabio Aru could be fast-tracked towards the race having made a speedy recovery from his own.
The Italian, who won the Vuelta a España in 2015, was set to ride the Giro d'Italia but was forced to sit out after undergoing surgery to correct a constricted iliac artery in his left leg on April 1.
He recently made his comeback to racing at the GP Citta di Lugano and is currently racing the Tour de Suisse, which heads for the mountains on Thursday. He is said to be feeling better than expected, and despite being pencilled in for the Vuelta, team management are considering taking him to the Tour.
"Fabio is a little in the same boat as Fernando. We'll make a decision on Monday," Matxin said.
"His planning was to do his national championships and the Vuelta, and we may well stick to that, but we'll see how he fares in Switzerland and assess at the end of the race and see if he has good feelings."
Dan Martin is set to lead UAE Team Emirates' GC bid at the Tour, having finished in the top 10 in the past three editions.