Gaviria wins opening stage of inaugural Tour of Guangxi
Neo-pro Rémi Cavagna takes most aggressive rider prize and the KOM jersey after animating the first day from the break.
Up until this point of the season, Fernando Gaviria scored at least one victory in every stage race he rode in 2017 – Vuelta a San Juan, Volta ao Algarve, Tirreno-Adriatico, Giro d'Italia and Tour of Britain – and the Colombian was keen on continuing his streak also at the inaugural Tour of Guangxi, last World Tour stop of the year, which marked his first outing in China.
The opening day of the event featured a four-man breakaway from the start, which included also Quick-Step Floors' Rémi Cavagna, who in Guangxi is closing out his first pro season. The powerful 22-year-old Frenchman did his fair share of pulling in the escape – whose maximum gap stood at 30 seconds – before attacking after the last intermediate sprint and extending his lead to one minute.
On the stage's sole classified climb, which he won, Rémi was joined from the peloton by Jonathan Lastras (Caja Rural) and the duo managed to keep the chasers at bay until the three kilometers to go mark, where they were reabsorbed by the pack. That was the cue for the Quick-Step Floors train to move towards the front of the charging bunch and bring Fernando Gaviria in a good position for the sprint in Beihai.
"The original plan was to put some pressure on the sprinters' teams, so when Dillier attacked I jumped and followed him. Then, as I was feeling very good and strong, I decided to go solo and just see what happens. I increased my gap over the peloton, but the wind and wide roads made it impossible to go all the way to the line. Despite that, I'm happy with my form and with how I felt today", said Rémi Cavagna, the most aggressive rider of the stage and also the first rider to lead the KOM standings at the Chinese race.
Brimming with confidence after a solid final part of the season, which saw him claim victories at the Tour of Britain and the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, Gaviria left it late and kicked out with only 100 meters to go, sailing from the right side of the road past Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) en route to claiming his first ever victory in Asia, and with it, the leader's jersey in the Tour of Guangxi.
"We had only 100 kilometers on the menu today, but it was a very difficult stage, because of the wind and the speed in the bunch. The break wasn't large and luckily we had Rémi there, who proved just how strong he was, getting caught only in the final kilometers", said 23-year-old Fernando, who's also the best young rider of the race, after the stage in Beihai. "My teammates did again a great job and I'm glad I could repay them with this victory. It's always nice to win a race, especially a World Tour one, and I'm happy to have added another win to the team's remarkable haul of successes this season."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele