Etixx-QuickStep will line-up at Tirreno-Adriatico with a strong team that includes their sprint sensation and Omnium world champion Fernando Gaviria. It will be the Colombian sprinter’s first WorldTour race with his team, and director Davide Bramati insisted that there is no pressure on him ahead of the seven-day race that runs March 9-15 in Italy.
“I know that people are talking more and more of Fernando, but we’re not going to put any pressure on him,” said Bramati in a team press release. “Not only that he’s coming to Italy after what was a hard-fought Omnium win at the World Championships in London, last week, but he’ll make his WorldTour debut in Tirreno-Adriatico, so our focus will be on helping him to cope with the level of the competition and make sure he’ll have a nice race.”
A series of winning performances early in 2015, namely at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, led to a Gaviria’s first WorldTour contract, signed in August with Etixx-QuickStep, a contract that will take him through the end of 2017. He raced a handful of 2.1 and 2.HC-level events and found success after winning a stage of the Tour of Britain in September.
He started the 2016 season on the road with victories at Tour de San Luis in January and Tour Cycliste International La Provence in February.
But his primary focus this winter was on the track, which culminated with a second straight victory in the Omnium at the UCI Track World Championships on Sunday. He took the win in a thrilling finale that came down to the last sprint in the points race. Although he won, he had the same points, 191, as runner-up Roger Kluge (Germany) and third-placed Glenn O'Shea (Australia).
This week, Gaviria will leave London and head to Italy to join Etixx-QuickStep for his first-ever WorldTour race. His teammates will include Gianluca Brambilla, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote.
“We come at the start with a competitive team, which is ready for what looks to be a difficult Tirreno-Adriatico, with an uphill finish and a couple of tricky stages, during which anything can happen,” Bramati said.
The race will start with a 22.7km team time trial in Lido di Camaiore, a stage that Etixx-QuickStep won in 2013 and 2014. The team will likely look to Gaviria for the flatter-stage sprints, and a GC position with Jungels and Brambilla, who was third at Strade Bianche on Saturday.
“We don’t hide the fact that we hope to get a strong result in the team time trial, a stage we won twice in the past three years, but we can’t predict how things will go there. Overall, our goal is to take a stage and do a good GC with Bob and Gianluca, who lines up for Tirreno after an incredible ride in Strade Bianche,” Bramati said.
Etixx-QuickStep for Tirreno-Adriatico: Gianluca Brambilla, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote.
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