Gaviria opens San Juan campaign with convincing win
A perfect lead-out by Tom Boonen and a rock solid sprint of the Colombian delivered the team's second victory of the year.
Argentina: the land of tango, passionate football fans, fascinating natural landscapes and... Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team. In the past five years, our team made a habit out of winning regularly in the South American country, be it bunch finishes, time trials, or mountain stages. Between 2012 and 2016, the Quick-Step Floors riders scored nine victories in Argentina; number 10 was only a question of time, and it came on the first day of the 35th Vuelta a San Juan, through the likes of Fernando Gaviria, who returned to winning ways three months after taking a memorable victory in Paris-Tours.
The Colombian prodigy, for many the best neo-pro of 2016, was protected by his teammates throughout the 142.5km-long stage which concluded in San Juan, and as soon as Tom Boonen stepped aside following his monster lead-out, he sprinted to the line, not allowing Elia Viviani (Italian National Team) and Nicolas Marini (Nippo-Vini Fantini) to come around, despite having the two in his slipstream for more than 50 meters.
Monday's sprint, a reduced one after dozens of riders took a wrong turn with 1500 meters to go, saw Fernando kick off his season with a victory in Argentina for the third consecutive year: "It was a good day for us. The pace during the stage was ok and we were prepared for the final sprint. The guys were amazing in the finale, one which became a little bit chaotic, and I really want to thank everybody. Max and then Tom led me perfectly into the final straight. Once Tom swung to the left, I opened my sprint and gave everything. It's a luxury to have such riders in the team."
Not only that he nabbed the victory, but Fernando Gaviria also became the first leader of the race, while Quick-Step Floors tops the teams standings: "It was great to win here and take the leader's jersey in my first race of the season. It's no secret that I like racing in Argentina and it's always a pleasure to win here and get a boost of confidence for the upcoming races. I worked really hard in the past weeks and it's nice to see it pay off. We will see what we can do tomorrow. Many strong riders and teams that want to win are here, but if the opportunity arises, then we will try to grab a second victory."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele