Gaviria says Viviani deserved to win Giro d'Italia stage 3

The image of Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) on the winners' podium of stage three of the Giro d'Italia, arms clamped firmly to his sides, spoke volumes about the way he viewed this victory.

Second in the sprint and clearly beaten by Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the Colombian lost no time in congratulating the Italian on his victory as they freewheeled after the line.

But then – over 30 minutes later – by which time Gaviria was in the UAE team bus having had his shower and done his post stage analysis with waiting journalists, the news broke that the jury had relegated Viviani and Gaviria was, in fact, the winner of his fifth Giro d'Italia stage.

Flanked by two hefty organisation security staff and with a grim look on his face, television images then showed the Colombian striding through the finish area en route to the winners' podium.

But when he stood on the podium, although he accepted the bouquet as stage winner and the jersey of the new points leader, Gaviria clearly had no intention of raising his arms to celebrate either achievement.

"In my opinion Elia won the stage today," Gaviria confirmed afterwards. "He was looking around to check who was coming up and his error was not intentional. For me, the winner on the road is the winner.

"I lost to Elia today, he's a great rider and I'm very sorry for him."

Gaviria said later that he had texted Viviani to express his belief that the Italian, not he, had won. The Colombian, who claimed four Giro stages back in 2017 in a triumphant Grand Tour debut – adding another two in the Tour de France last year – added that he was sure that Viviani would win again.

Gaviria also insisted he had lost, and said he was "very sorry for Elia." His categorical comments in favour of the Italian National Champion drew scattered applause from one or two journalists in the Giro d'Italia press room.

Gaviria also was notably critical of stage three's technical, complicated finish, which featured a chicane in the final 500 metres, saying it was "dangerous, with a lot of bends."

He insisted that physical contact between the sprinters in such a complicated finale "was impossible to avoid," even if the incident between Viviani and Elia Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) had in fact happened in a straighter segment of the finish.

As for his own condition, the Colombian said he had felt "stronger than yesterday," - when he finished fourth on the results sheet as well as on the road - "but not that much." He then added, for the umpteenth time, "For me, Elia won today."

Gaviria also agreed with one journalist that it was difficult for all the peloton to handle such long stages like Monday's, with five over 200 kilometres in length featuring in the first week alone.

"A Giro is already tough," he pointed out, "but it becomes even more difficult when the stage is so long, you reach your hotel late in the evening, you need to get a massage, to sleep, but you don't sleep well, so it's more difficult to recover.

"For me personally, it's tough, because when I wake up, I want to sleep more and I can't. But it's the same for everybody."

Regardless of the stages' lengths, his own objective, he said, continued unchanged despite having made it onto the winner's podium on stage three.

"But", he added in Italian after taking the microphone back when the press conference translator had finished speaking, "I don't want 'just another' win. I want a beautiful win."

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