Fernando Gaviria wins in Villa Mercedes
One day after helping the squad finish first in the team time trial, the Colombian sprinted to victory in stage 2 of the Tour de San Luis
Hot temperatures, a mainly flat course and Maximiliano Richeze in the leader’s jersey: these were the coordinates at the start of the second day in Tour de San Luis, 181.9 kilometers between San Luis and Villa Mercedes. Six riders decided to go into the break – Juan I.Curuchet, Ariel Sivori, Emiliano Ibarra, Israel Nuño, Genki Yamamoto and Caio Godoy – and put almost immediately five minutes between them and the peloton. From that group, Sivori took the maximum points on the day’s sole categorized climb, while Curuchet came on top at both intermediate sprints.
With 50 kilometers to go, Rodrigo Contreras – who was wearing the jersey that rewards the best young cyclist of the event – was involved in a crash, but fortunately he returned in the peloton and didn’t concede any time. Then, in the last 20 kilometers, Yamamoto, Sivori and Godoy broke clear of their breakaway companions and at one point enjoyed a 5-minute lead, which made them dream of taking the victory. But the Etixx – Quick-Step riders did a great job in that final part of the stage, pulled hard and caught the remnants of the escape inside the last kilometer. Guided by none other than Maximiliano Richeze, the green jersey wearer, Fernando Gaviria timed his sprint to perfection and scored his first victory of the season, ahead of world champion Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani.
Thanks to this win and the bonus seconds he got on the line, the young Colombian now leads the general classification (the podium being rounded out by teammates Richeze and Contreras) and the U23 rankings. This was the 21-year-old cyclist’s third victory in the race, following the two he got at last year’s edition, one of which came in Villa Mercedes, today’s arrival city.
“I’m very happy! The team worked in the beginning of the stage hoping other teams will come along, but as it didn’t happen we didn’t do it anymore, especially as it was very hot out there. After we stopped pulling, other teams came to the forefront, and in the last 20 kilometers, even though the gap was still big, Davide Bramati asked us to work hard, which we did. To me is something magical to win again in Villa Mercedes, one year after that victory which helped me get a World Tour contract.
This victory is for my family and for the team, which has been by my side since joining it.
“It’s a huge joy knowing I can ride and win against riders like Sagan and Viviani. This is why I train every day and give 100% all the time”, said Fernando Gaviria, who scored the team’s second success in as many days.
For Davide Bramati, Etixx – Quick-Step’s sport director, today’s stage resembled to a game of chess: “It was a tough day. The first long stage of the year, we had 40 degrees, just six guys to control things, and all these made up for a very complicated day. In the end, the riders were really great, they pulled hard, and we delivered the victory and managed to keep the leader’s jersey within the team. We now look forward to the rest of the week with a great morale.”
Stage 3 of the Tour de San Luis will take place Wednesday, between Potrero de los Funes and La Punta (131 km) and will include three categorized climbs before a final downhill and a short flat section towards the end.
Photo credit: Tim De Waele