Fernando Gaviria has confirmed that the Tour de France will be his principal target in his debut season at UAE Team Emirates, though the Colombian has not ruled out also taking part in the Giro d’Italia in May.
Gaviria won two stages on his Tour debut in 2018, a year after he notched up four stage victories and the points classification at the Giro. Speaking to reporters at the Colombian sportsperson of the year ceremony, the 24-year-old explained that he is still sketching out his 2019 race programme in full.
"We’re waiting because some of the directeurs sportifs want me to do 10 days of the Giro to prepare for the Tour. Others say that it would be better to go to the Tour of California to prepare for the Tour," Gaviria said, according to El Espectador. "So we’re waiting [to decide on] the best and most focused path for the Tour, which is our biggest objective."
Gaviria joins UAE Team Emirates after extricating himself a year early from his contract at Quick-Step Floors, where manager Patrick Lefevere had given him permission to speak to other teams at the end of the summer. Although Lefevere ultimately secured a new title sponsor for 2019 in Deceuninck, he was unable to match the offer presented by UAE Team Emirates.
"I think the cycle with Quick-Step was coming to an end, so we wanted to try with other teams and Emirates was the choice," said Gaviria. "We wanted a change, we looked for a change and we hope that the change was the right one."
Gaviria is expected to make his first competitive appearance for UAE Team Emirates at the Vuelta a San Juan in late January. It remains to be seen how he will divide the calendar with fellow sprinter Alexander Kristoff, who won the final stage of the 2018 Tour in Paris.
In an interview with Cyclingnews last month, Kristoff acknowledged that Gaviria would likely be the team’s lead sprinter for the 2019 Tour but hoped he would be given opportunities to chase stage wins in other Grand Tours. "I hope the UAE team wants me to win rather than just lead out Gaviria; otherwise I'll be a very expensive lead-out man…" Kristoff said.