After shining at the Tour de San Luis in each of the past two seasons, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step) will again begin his season in Argentina when he lines up at the Vuelta a San Juan from January 23 to 29.
Gaviria announced his arrival as a sprinter when he scorched to a brace of stage wins in front of Mark Cavendish in San Luis in 2015, and he claimed another stage victory in the race last year. This time around, the 22-year-old is set to be among the marquee names at the 35th edition of the Vuelta a San Juan, which will also feature Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Gaviria’s Quick-Step teammate Tom Boonen.
“Argentina is the country that allowed me to introduce my name in Europe, and especially in the Quick-Step team. I also relate Argentina with some of my best memories, like the wins against Cavendish,” Gaviria said. “They will always be good memories.”
Quick-Step swooped to sign Gaviria on the back of that 2015 success in San Luis, and he linked up with the team in August of that year, winning a stage of the Tour of Britain. 2016 marked Gaviria’s first full season at WorldTour level, and he was in contention for Milan-San Remo victory only to crash in the finishing sprint on the Via Roma.
Gaviria would go on to claim his first classic victory when he won Paris-Tours in October, and the Colombian youngster also won stages at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Pologne, as well as gold in the omnium at the Track World Championships in London. After missing out on a medal in the Olympic Games in Rio, Gaviria announced his intention to shift his focus to the road for the coming season.
“Is not a final decision, we are talking about it, but during 2017 you will see me more on road than on track,” said Gaviria, who showed flashes of potential on the cobbles last season, most notably when he placed 6th at Gent-Wevelgem.
“I’ve still got a lot of goals to get. In 2017 I would like to get as many races as possible. I want to improve myself and figure out where I can go. I really love Belgium classics races and I would like to debut in a big stage race, a three-week one,” Gaviria said. Last week, Quick-Step confirmed that Gaviria will ride the Giro d'Italia in 2017.
In the longer term, Gaviria has ambitions of becoming the first Colombian winner of Paris-Roubaix, and for 2017, he has designs on making his debut in the race alongside Boonen, who is set to bring the curtain down on his career in the Roubaix velodrome on April 9.
“Winning Paris-Roubaix, it’s the race I love the most. I never participated [in it]” Gaviria said. “It would be a dream to race it side by side with Boonen in his last career race, even if it will not be easy to find space in this team that day.”