Teams lining up to sign Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria
MILAN (VN) — The strength to beat Mark Cavendish, the ability to bring points, and the advantage of youth has teams lining up outside Fernando Gaviria’s door. Ag2r-La Mondiale and Etixx-Quick-Step, the latter being Cavendish’s team, reportedly have already spoken with the 20-year-old Colombian about his 2015 plans.
“I’m dreaming of racing the Tour de France and racing more on the road,” Gaviria told Ciclismo Internacional.
“I’m going to have to wait until next year because I want to fulfill my commitment with team Coldeportes.”
His contract with the amateur Coldeportes-Claro team extends through 2015, but he made international headlines racing in the white colors of Colombia’s national team last week.
Gaviria shot ahead of cycling’s sprint king Cavendish in the first stage of Tour de San Luis in Villa Mercedes last week. He repeated the feat, winning with a larger advantage over Cavendish on then next sprint opportunity, stage 3. On the third occasion, stage 7, he pushed Cavendish to the last meter but ended up taking second.
Cavendish had no idea who Gaviria was before stage 1, but quickly studied his rival.
“Being able to sprint from a distance like that is a sign of a track rider. It’s very impressive,” Cavendish explained in a press release.
“It’s important to anticipate his sprint and do the job before he does.”
France’s L’Equipe newspaper reported that Ag2r sport director Arturas Kasputis met with Gaviria, Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad said Etixx sport director Davide Bramati visited Gaviria’s hotel, and Gaviria himself explained that five ProTeams asked about his 2015 plans.
Gaviria would present a golden opportunity for any team because of his speed and his potential. Given his age (20), a top-tier team would have time to develop him and provide a supporting leadout train that could dominate races in a similar way HTC-Highroad did with Cavendish.
Cycling’s top sprinters include Cavendish, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Australian Matthews and Frenchman Bouhanni are the youngest of the lot, but still four years older than Gaviria.
Only Australian Caleb Ewan comes close to Gaviria in terms of age (20) and speed. Orica signed him last year and already this season, he has won three criteriums in Australia and finished second in the national championships behind Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling).
Gaviria’s home is in La Ceja in west-central Colombia at 2,200 meters abve sea level, but his speed comes from the track. He won the Madison and Omnium titles at the 2012 junior world championships. He took home the Ominum title from the London World Cup in December.
He is aiming for another gold medal in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which means any potential ProTeam will have to work around his track program.
“But I prefer the road,” Gaviria said. “I want to win stages and one-day races.”
After the upcoming UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Paris, scheduled for February 18-22, Gaviria will continue his road season at the Under-23 Tour of Colombia, the Tour de L’Avenir, and the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. However, with two San Luis sprint wins over Cavendish, the ProTeams will not let him out of their sights.