Top 10 for Gaviria in Dwars door Vlaanderen
Riding his first ever cobbled Classic, the Colombian put on a strong performance on the hellingen and notched another important result in his debut season.
Dwars door Vlaanderen was once again a spectacular race, which had it all: bad weather, attacks and counterattacks, a crazy pace and a nail-biting sprint for the win. But long before that, six riders attacked seconds after the start and built a gap which exceeded seven minutes: Jesper Asselman (Roompot Oranje), Igor Boev (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Alex Kirsch (Stölting Service Group), Victor Manakov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
In that moment, Etixx – Quick-Step moved to the front of the pack and organized the chase, and its effort had results almost immediately, as the team reduced the gap of the escapees by two minutes. Then, with around 80 kilometers left, three men made a move from the peloton and rode full gas in order to catch the ones at the front: Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
On the Eikenberg, three-time ITT world champion Tony Martin was at the head of the pack, setting the pace, but the real race began a few kilometers later, on the Taaienberg, where Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) tried to put the hammer down and force a selection. A split occurred, among those who didn't miss the move being Fernando Gaviria, Nikolas Maes and Niki Terpstra. The forcing continued, and minutes later a 15-man group was formed, which also included Maes.
These riders eventually caught the ones in the lead, except for Van Melsen, who attacked and managed to stay away a couple of kilometers more. The peloton wasn't far behind, and in the end made the junction after the Oude Kwaremont – Paterberg combo. Inside the final ten kilometers, as the teams were drawing their tactic for a bunch gallop, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) jumped from the bunch and put 14 seconds between him and the chasers. Immediately, Niki Terpstra – a two-time winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen – made his way to the front and rode full gas, his huge effort paying off with less than two kilometers to go, when the Belgian was brought back.
In the final 300 meters of the race, Fernando Gaviria – who was riding a cobblestone Classic for the first time in his career – opened his sprint, but other riders proved to be faster, the win going into the account of Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), who finished ahead of Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segrafredo). Still, despite the lactic acid taking its toll, the young Colombian managed to came in the top 10, a result which underlines once again his potential and versatility.
"Today, the team rode perfectly for me, and I want to thank my teammates for this and for putting their trust in me. Unfortunately, in the sprint, my legs weren't great and I couldn't do better than this 10th place I got", Gaviria explained right after the finish in Waregem. "This was my first experience in Belgium, and I really liked a lot the cobblestones, the roads and the atmosphere. I enjoyed everything and I also gained important experience for the future."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele