Gaviria ready to quit track racing after Olympic omnium disappointment

Fernando Gaviria has said he will quit track racing and focus on his professional road racing career with Etixx-QuickStep after finishing a disappointed fourth in the men’s omnium at the Rio Olympics.

The Colombian sprinter made the announcement in a personal column published on the website, explaining how he travelled “to Rio de Janeiro with a dream, with the goal of winning, but left empty-handed.”

Gaviria won the omnium world title in 2014 and 2015 but struggled to be competitive in the six different races that make up the omnium at the Rio Olympics. He went on the attack during the first part of the final points race and scored 20 points after gaining a lap but then missed out on the medals. Elia Viviani (Italy) won gold, ahead of Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) and Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark).

“When the points race ended and I knew I was fourth in the omnium at the Olympic Games, many things went through my mind. I was disappointed because I wanted the gold medal, because I was the world champion and wanted to prove it,” Gaviria wrote.

“When I took the plane, I said: ‘If I don’t win, I go; because if I lose, I’m out,’ and that's the decision I've made: I’m retiring from the track. Maybe someday I’ll ride a six-day, but I won’t carry on as I have been doing. I’m not looking at competing in or dreaming of another Olympics, I’m saying goodbye to the track. We will analyse that decision but now I want to focus on the road.”

Gaviria took full responsibility for his result on the track.

“There’s no need to look far for who is guilty; the only one who did not deliver was me, I didn’t do the job I’d hoped for on the track; it was my responsibility and I couldn’t do it. I’m the only culprit!” he wrote.

Gaviria is only 21 but feels Colombia should use the next four-year Olympic cycle to develop another young track rider. He moved to dismiss any criticism in Colombia that his road racing career in Europe had some how damaged his chances on the track. He won six races with Etixx-QuickStep, including two stages at the recent Tour de Pologne, which indicated he was on form.

“I think the opportunity should be given to other young people, as it was once given to me. You have to find someone who can do better than me,” he suggested.

“My team had nothing to do with the outcome on the track; on the contrary, if I came to the Olympics it was because they insisted, because they believed that I could be on the podium, something I was also convinced of, but I also failed them.

“There was so much expectation and not having the answers to what happened generates disgust, rage and impotence. I’m sure I could not have given more because I didn’t come to Rio just to ride round. The Olympics have taught me many lessons and one is that human make mistakes and we can learn from them. I'm sad and disappointed by my result, because I failed and don’t have the answer why but I know I'm young and I have a long career ahead of me.”

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