Giro d'Italia: Gaviria sprints to victory and maglia rosa
A monumental Quick-Step Floors created a masterpiece in the final kilometers of stage 3, splitting the peloton to pieces and helping Fernando become the youngest ever Colombian Grand Tour stage winner.
Fernando Gaviria made history at the Giro d'Italia, at the end of a day in which Quick-Step proved its tactical masterclass, shattering the bunch in the heavy crosswinds with ten kilometers remaining, breaking away and opening a gap which turned out to be insurmountable for the chasers until the end of the stage.
After the three-man escape which got to stay in the spotlight for most of the day was reabsorbed by the nervous pack, six of our riders put the hammer down on the beautiful Sardinian coast and quick-step-ed the peloton on the run-in to Cagliari, dropping all bar four riders.
Laurens De Plus, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels, Iljo Keisse, Davide Martinelli and Maximiliano Richeze were the ones who lit up the stage, after Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns and Pieter Serry had previously set the pace at the head of the pack, going into the last 20 kilometers. The sextet ensured numerical advantage for Quick-Step Floors in the front group, who continued to power ahead and hold onto the 15-20 second advantage over the bunch, which included all the other sprinters and GC contenders.
Luxembourg Champion and TT powerhouse Bob Jungels – the 2016 Giro d'Italia white jersey – led the group as they went under the flamme rouge, his all-out effort laying the foundations for the victory as they drew closer to the finish line. Then, Maximiliano Richeze stepped in and countered an attack of Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), before Fernando Gaviria emerged from his wheel and sprinted to his first Grand Tour victory, capitalizing at the end of the day on the superb work of his teammates, who showed their vast classics experience in the way they rode the stage's final kilometers.
"It goes without saying this is the best day of my career! To win a stage at the Giro and take the leader's jersey is a dream come true. My teammates did a wonderful job today and I want to say a big thanks for how they rode, protecting me throughout the stage and then setting me up for this victory", said Fernando, only the fourth Colombian rider to lead the Giro d'Italia.
Quick-Step Floors' sprinter, who had a peak power of 1468W in the sprint, hitting a maximum speed of 61.9km/h, continued: "What made things even more special was to have my family at the finish and celebrate this success with them. I worked hard to get here, I made many sacrifices, trained day after day and remained focused all the time, and to get such a reward is incredible. Tonight, I will go to sleep with the pink jersey on my shoulders."
The 22-year-old, who nabbed Quick-Step Floors' 60th win in a Grand Tour, also leads the best young rider classification; in addition to these, our riders' fantastic collective effort in Sunday's tough crosswinds took the squad to the top of the team standings, which means Quick-Step Floors now control three of the race's classifications.
"We were aware the wind could play a huge role today and as soon as we took that corner and had the coast on our right side, the team rode full gas. From that point on, it was a team time trial until the finish, with the guys driving a hard tempo without ever looking back. Our move was a textbook one and I couldn't be prouder of the entire team, who rode selflessly. First two days weren't the easiest for us, but we bounced back in style today and we are very happy", concluded Gaviria, the youngest ever Colombian rider to triumph in a Grand Tour stage and at the same time lead a three-week race, after Quick-Step Floors' 25th victory of the season.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele