Onwards and upwards. Colombian fast man Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) has yet to capture a victory in the 2021 Giro d'Italia, but his steadily improving placings in the first ten days are a surefire sign, he says, that a win is on the way.
On stage 10's fourth category climb, which proved so pivotal to Sagan's success 40 kilometres further on in Foligno, Gaviria certainly had the edge on the multiple other sprinters dropped from the pack by Bora-Hansgrohe's blistering pace.
But for all he managed to keep in contention on the uphill segment of the stage, in the final dash for the line three-quarters of an hour later, Sagan was more than capable of keeping Gaviria at bay.
On the plus side, second in Foligno is Gaviria's best result since the Giro began 10 days ago and surely a sign, the Colombian told reporters at the finish line, of better days to come.
"Having great condition isn't enough, you have to win, but hey, if I keep trying, for sure it'll happen," Gaviria said before heading to the team bus.
"The final sprint was complicated, I almost fell off with a kilometre to go but that's no excuse.
"I think I have good legs, even if I suffered a lot on the climb because they [Bora-Hansgrohe] were really full on there. But finally, I just have to congratulate Peter. He deserved the win, they worked hard for it."
The winner of five stages of the Giro d'Italia in his career, four in a single edition back in 2016, Gaviria is on a comeback trail at the Italian Grand Tour, his first race since breaking his wrist in the E3 Harelbeke this spring.
But with his last victory now dating from mid-September last year and his last Grand Tour success in the Giro 2019, despite the evident progress, Gaviria knows he has to fight on in this year's Grand Tour.
"Of course I'm sad not to get the victory, but we'll keep trying," he told reporters, "Sebastian" - Juan Sebastian Molano, one of his key support riders in bunch sprints - "was up there too and he's in good shape. So we'll go on seeing what we can do."
Gaviria also had words of praise for compatriot and maglia rosa Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) saying it was "always nice to see a fellow-Colombian in the pink jersey. He deserves it, he's worked very hard for it, and I hope he has it in Milan."
While Bernal will be fighting for pink on multiple mountain stages in the Giro's second and third weeks, just two sprint chances remain for Gaviria to break his 2021 Giro duck: on Friday in Verona, and then stage 18, a lone long flat stage jammed between the Dolomites and the Alps in the final week.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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