Quick-Step Floors have confirmed that Fernando Gaviria will kick-off his 2018 season at the Vuelta a San Juan (January 21-28), with trusted leadout man Maximiliano Richeze, Iljo Keisse, Rémi Cavagna and neo-pros Alvaro Hodeg and Jhonatan Narvaez, backing the Colombian in the four expected sprint finishes.
Gaviria landed his first ever professional victories at the 2015 Tour de San Luis in Argentina and will be looking to kick-start his 2018 season at the nearby Vuelta a San Juan. He and his Quick-Step Floors teammates will then stay in South America to ride the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz race between February 6-11, with Julian Alaphilippe joining the squad in Colombia.
The Quick-Step Floors team have often secured their first victory of the season in South America and have racked up 15 victories in Argentina in the last five years. Gaviria won two stages at the 2017 Vuelta a San Juan, with Richeze taking two others and Tom Boonen taking the final victory of his career on stage 2.
Gaviria went on to win four stages and take the points jersey at the Giro d'Italia in 2017. He is expected to target the sprints on his debut at the Tour de France in 2018. After Marcel Kittel's move to Katusha-Alpecin, Gaviria will share the sprinting responsibilities at Quick-Step Floors with Elia Viviani.
"Vuelta a San Juan is a good race to start the season. We took five stage wins at the previous edition, so it's only normal to line up at the start motivated to start the year with a good result," directeur sportif Davide Bramati said in Quick-Step Floors' official announcement.
"Concerning our team, you can see it's a mix of young and experienced riders, who will have their chances to shine, especially in the bunch sprints, so we are looking forward to this race."