Tour of Guangxi: Gaviria nets Quick-Step Floors’ 55th UCI win of 2017
Following his third straight success in China, the 23-year-old continues to lead the overall, points and youth standings.
Fernando Gaviria's purple patch of form in these closing weeks of the season carried the Quick-Step Floors rider to his 13th victory of the year, at the end of another fast and furious stage in the Tour of Guangxi, which was based around the town of Nanning.
Three riders – Nuno Bico (Movistar), Jack Haig (Orica-Scott) and Daniel Oss (BMC) – formed the day's main breakaway, but the peloton wasn't willing of making any gifts ahead of the race's queen-stage, and as consequence the trio couldn't establish a significant lead.
The escapees were brought back before the last intermediate sprint, where Julian Alaphilippe grabbed three seconds to put him into contention for the general classification, but other moves soon followed from the bunch, with Lawson Craddock (Cannondale-Drapac) and Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) giving it a go and managing to stay at the front until the final five kilometers of stage three.
Quick-Step Floors took the reins in the bunch at the three kilometers to go mark and began setting a high pace in the pack, before Max Richeze stepped in and showcased for the umpteenth time his extraordinary lead-out skills, bringing Fernando Gaviria to the front and helping the Colombian stamp again his authority on the Tour of Guangxi sprints.
Fernando's fantastic turn of speed couldn't be matched by his opponents – Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) and Magnus Cort (Orica-Scott) – as the 23-year-old completed his hat-trick of victories in China and increased his cushion in the overall classification, where teammate Julian Alaphilippe sits in tenth place ahead of the race's only uphill finish.
"Can't say I had the best sensations in my legs this morning, but things became better as the stage progressed. Having all the guys around, protecting me in every moment, helped a lot today. Martin and Pieter worked hard and pulled back the break, while Max provided another solid proof lead-out in the final 500 meters. I love this team, it's my second family and I'm really proud to be part of the Wolfpack and live so many great moments with them", said Fernando Gaviria after scoring the team's 55th UCI victory of the 2017 season, our best in term of number of wins since 2014.
Rik van Slycke, who together with Davide Bramati leads the Quick-Step Floors squad from the car at the Tour of Guangxi, shared his take on the first half of the race, as the peloton prepares to head into the mountains for a battle which could be decisive in the final outcome of the general classification: "We are delighted to see that ten months into the season, the guys are still focused and motivated to win, giving it their all every day. Three stages and three victories, that's a great feat, which underlines the fantastic quality of this team. We have the leader's jersey and Fernando is in good form, but tomorrow a stern test awaits and we'll see if he can overcome it. If he doesn't concede too much ground, then he'll be in with a shot at the GC. But we'll find out more on the road tomorrow, when we'll have several cards to play on the uphill finish to Mashan Nongla."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele