Fernando Gaviria has jumped the Quick-Step Floors ship to join UAE-Emirates on a three-year deal, officials confirmed Thursday.
The 24-year-old Colombian had one year remaining on his contract, but he decided to take a lucrative offer from the Arab-backed squad with ever-growing ambitions.
“With the new jersey, I am not going to hide my desires and I want the biggest wins,” Gaviria said.
Details of the deal were not revealed, but sources told VeloNews that UAE-Emirates offered Gaviria a much stronger financial package than what Quick-Step could match.
Rumors of Gaviria’s departure have been churning for weeks. Despite the arrival of new title sponsor Deceuninck, it was too late to keep one of cycling’s most promising riders in a Quick-Step jersey next year. Team manager Patrick Lefevere revealed Gaviria’s departure to a Dutch website Wednesday night, and the team confirmed it Thursday.
“His departure hurts,” Lefevere told Wielerflits. “You have to make choices. And I hope that with Alvaro Hodeg, Fabio Jakobsen, and Elia Viviani that we can make life more difficult for him.”
Lefevere discretely gave Gaviria and other riders the green light to search out new deals earlier this season when it appeared the team’s future was not secure. The arrival of Deceuninck assured the team’s future, but it was too late to keep Gaviria. Other teams were offering salary hikes that Lefevere said he could not match.
Gaviria, who won two stages and wore the yellow jersey in his Tour de France debut in July, is one of the most talented and versatile young riders in the peloton. Already a top sprinter, many believe Gaviria could also develop into a classics star similar to Peter Sagan.
Quick-Step signed Gaviria in 2015 following his breakout performance at that year’s Tour de San Luis, where he beat Mark Cavendish and other WorldTour sprinters. He joined Quick-Step full-time in 2016. He has quickly racked up 34 pro wins.
Gaviria leaves behind a solid leadout train at Quick-Step as well as a strong support system. UAE-Emirates has Alexander Kristoff, Roberto Ferrari, Marco Marcato and Simone Consonni, who could help him in the sprints.
Gaviria joined his new UAE-Emirates teammates in a training camp through the end of the month.
“I change teams after having always raced in the same group, which has given me the possibility to jump to the highest level,” Gaviria said. “I’m happy to be able to race with my compatriots Henao, Muñoz, and Molano.”
Quick-Step, meanwhile, also sees the departures of Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), budding Belgian stage racer Laurens De Plus (LottoNL-Jumbo), German sprinter Maximilian Schachman (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Ecuadoran climbing promise Jhonathan Narvaez (Sky).