Etixx-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere has praised Fernando Gaviria for his first ever sprint victory at Tirreno-Adriatico and confirmed that the 21-year Colombian will be the team’s sprint option for next Saturday’s Milan-San Remo.
Gaviria had already shown his talent with stage victories at the Tour de San Luis and at the Tour of Britain in 2015 but his victory in Montalto di Castro ahead of Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani was his first ever WorldTour victory, and came less than a week after his success at the London track world championships.
Gazzetta dello Sport's headline of ‘E’ nata una stella’ –A star is born’, was fitting. Gaviria showed he is a superb road sprinter and a real threat if Milan-San Remo finishes in a bunch sprint. Lefevere managed to secure Gaviria’s signature after his stages victories at the 2015 Tour de San Luis, preferring to let Mark Cavendish move onto Dimension Data.
“From now on everyone in the peloton knows that they will have to reckon with him in the sprints,” Lefevere told the Belga news agency after celebrating a second consecutive stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico following Zdenek Stybar’s win in Pomerance.
"It's incredible how quickly Gaviria has made the switch from the track back to the road. On Saturday he became world champion in the Omnium, less than a week later he won a stage in the Tirreno-Adriatico.
“Gaviria is already key rider for us, he’s a real talent. We are careful with him but not too careful, because the past has repeatedly shown that sprinters are often precocious. He is not afraid of anything and you can see it.”
Gaviria had always been under consideration for Etixx-QuickStep’s Milan-San Remo squad and went to see the route along the Mediterranean while racing in Provence before the Track World Championships. His stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico has secured him a role of protected sprinter and joint team leader alongside Zdenek Stybar.
“Zdenek Stybar is our leader and he’s got great form and we’ll also see how well Gaviria can do,” Lefevere confirmed.
“It’s important to remember that he’s not a normal rider. I think he can do everything. He won the stage at the Tour of Britain after 218 kilometres of hard racing and put three lengths into an on-form André Greipel in the sprint. There is no pressure on him for Milan-San Remo, so we’ll let him ride and see what he can do.”