Gaviria and his fellow Colombian Rodrigo Contreras have each signed two-year agreements with Etixx-QuickStep, beginning from next season, after they underwent testing at the Bakala Academy in Leuven, Belgium on Tuesday morning. Both riders are currently with the Coldeportes-Claro Continental outfit.
Etixx-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed that the 20-year-old Gaviria will be able to combine his road duties with his track career in 2016, when he will target gold in the Omnium at the Olympic Games in Rio.
“We talked a lot about his desire to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics on the track. We respect and support his decision,” Lefevere said in a statement released by the team. “Next year Fernando will have a program that will allow him to be in the best condition for the Olympics, while also participating in road racing."
Gaviria’s Omnium win at the weekend was his first world title at senior level following his brace of rainbow jerseys on the track as a junior in 2012. He also won the Omnium at the London round of the Track World Cup in December, and showed his ability on the road by winning the Pan American under-23 road race title last season.
Two wins ahead of Mark Cavendish at the Tour de San Luis - including a devastating uphill sprint - offered a further glimpse of that potential and he was enthusiastic about the idea of racing alongside the Manxman.
“I am really looking forward to joining this team," Gaviria said. "This was my first choice. I love this team and have followed them since I was a kid. I have strong admiration for Mark Cavendish. At Tour de San Luis I was constantly watching him, trying to understand his movements and learn as much as I can from him. For me it is super to join a team that is so skilled in the sprints, and provides a good structure for me to do my job and get better at my job.”
The presence of Gaviria’s fellow Colombian Rigoberto Uran was also an undoubted influence in his decision to join Etixx-QuickStep. Like Uran, Gaviria hails from the Antioquia department and shares an agent in Giuseppe Acquadro.
Contreras, who finished 5th overall and won the title of best young rider at the recent Tour de San Luis, confirmed that the prospect of riding alongside Uran was an attractive one. Like Uran, Contreras is a climber with a solid time trialling pedigree, and he was under-23 Pan-American champion in the discipline last year.
“I am over the moon to have this opportunity," Contreras said. "It's one of the best teams in the world and I am really looking forward to riding for this team. I am a climber, but I also love the time trial discipline. My idol is Rigoberto Uran, who races for this team, so to come here and learn from guys like him is really a dream come true."
Lefevere said that he had been following the progress of the two 20-year-olds for the past twelve months and that their displays at the Tour de San Luis had convinced him to sign them up. While both riders will join Etixx-QuickStep on a full-time basis from the beginning of 2016, Gaviria could potentially see action for the men in black as a stagiaire before this year is out.
“It was nice to finally sit down with them and talk with them personally. I think they are good guys,” Lefevere said. “Concerning Gaviria, there is a possibility for him to ride with the team as a stagiaire this season, but we will decide later.”
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