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Giro d'Italia

Fernando Gaviria ‘content’ with third at Giro d’Italia sprint

Colombian encouraged by strong showing behind Mark Cavendish after a string of COVID infections during the past two seasons.

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It’s been a rough few years for Fernando Gaviria, so to be third and in the mix in Sunday’s first real bunch sprint of the 2022 Giro d’Italia was something to celebrate.

Gaviria’s suffered through three different bouts of COVID-19 since 2020, and he’s hopeful he’ll be back in the winner’s circle before this Giro is over.

On Sunday, the Colombian star dashed to third, his best grand tour result since he was second in stage 10 in last year’s Giro.

“It’s hard to beat Cavendish when they have the train working like that,” Gaviria said. “It was a hard and very fast sprint. We fought to win it and did our best to be up there.”

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For a sprinter, third is nothing to cheer about, but for Gaviria, who’s won five Giro stages in his career, being back at the front edge of the fast finish is a good sign for the rest of this Giro.

His last grand tour stage win came in 2019, and since he’s been zapped by a series of COVID infections, the once-prolific sprinter saw his win ratio drop dramatically.

Gaviria, 27, is targeting at least one stage victory before this Giro is over, and Sunday’s ride to a podium spot is an encouraging sign.

“The team did a great job to keep me at the front,” he said. “We’ll look to the next opportunities, we’re happy with today and how it went but we are also focussed on going for a win in the chances to come.”

Also in Sunday’s stage, TV cameras captured Gaviria with a small white container or bottle. At about 68km to go, a live camera caught a glimpse of Gaviria shaking what some thought might have been an inhaler.

UAE Emirates officials confirmed to VeloNews that a team doctor said it was a “sugar and caffeine” energy solution.