The Colombian sprinter had a contract in place until the end of the 2019 season but his future has been up in the air in recent weeks. A report in La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this month linked him with an early move to UAE Team Emirates.
At the time, Lefevere was still searching for sponsorship to help run the team next year, and was facing the prospect of nullifying several rider contracts in order to balance the books on a reduced budget. Gaviria, one of the team's star riders who won two stages in his Tour de France debut this year, was granted permission to talk to other teams, and negotiations developed with UAE Team Emirates.
Even securing additional funding for 2019 from Belgian PVC company Deceuninck, Lefevere was unsure of holding onto Gaviria, highlighting the still far superior financial power of UAE Team Emirates. "I don’t want to keep people against their will," Lefevere said. "I don't want to say that he doesn't want to stay but when the team is forced to think about its worst-case scenario then people start to speak. I couldn't think too long term and into 2020 and 2021, so some riders start to talk to other teams."
Lefevere and team staff have gathered for preliminary meetings this week ahead of the 2019 season, and the long-standing boss confirmed Gaviria's exit on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old is now set to complete a move to UAE Team Emirates, where it is understood he would receive a significantly higher salary.
Shuffling the decks is nothing new to Lefevere, who let Marcel Kittel leave this time last year in order to bump Gaviria up the pecking order, and his decision was fully justified as replacement Elia Viviani turned out to be the star sprinter of 2018. Gaviria's exit will be softened by the emergence of fellow Colombian Alvaro Hodeg and Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen, both of whom have won multiple races, including at WorldTour level, in outstanding neo-pro campaigns.
Quick-Step have already said goodbye to Tour of Flanders champion Niki Terpstra, as well as Laurens De Plus, Max Schachmann, and Jhonatan Narvaez, while their only signings for 2019 so far are a pair of neo-pros in double U23 world champion Remco Evenepoel and the Dane Mikkel Honoré.
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