LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Colombian Fernando Gaviria is making every effort possible to win Milano-Sanremo. It starts with his team Quick-Step Floors and continues with Alessandro Petacchi, the former winner who is renting an apartment to Gaviria and motorpacing him along the Italian coast.
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Gaviria found a home through Petacchi, just above the start area of Wednesday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage in Lido di Camaiore. Last month, he moved in.
“He was asking via his teammate Fabio Sabatini,” Petacchi told VeloNews. “He wanted to be living in Belgium; he loves the Belgian races and Paris-Roubaix, but Sabatini said to come live in Tuscany. I sent him some photos of the apartment through his agent Giovanni Lombardi.”
Fernando replied “Si” to Petacchi, the 2005 winner of Milano-Sanremo, when he saw the photographs. He moved in and said that he will bring over his girlfriend from Colombia soon.
Petacchi happily helped his new tenant and cycling’s budding star. He added, “I picked him up from the airport and took him to his new home when he arrived from Colombia.”
The two began working on Milano-Saremo, now only 10 days away on March 18.
Ugo Agostoni won the 1914 Milano-Sanremo at 20 years old, the youngest to do so. If 21-year-old Gaviria had not crashed and instead won in 2016, his debut in the 300-kilometer race from Lombardy’s capital to the casino town on Italy’s riviera, he would have been among the youngest. Even when Cavendish won in 2009, he was already 23.
Petacchi is helping Gaviria, now 22, to make sure he is one of those sprinting for the win. He takes him motorpacing when Gaviria needs it and sorts out other issues that come up.
On Sunday, Quick-Step Floors sports director Davide Bramati drove with Gaviria from the Tuscan coast to Liguria. Once on the parcours, Gaviria climbed on his bike and Bramati followed him over the closing Cipressa and Poggio climbs, and the final seaside stretch into Sanremo.
“For me, like Cavendish said, he would’ve won last year in Sanremo if he didn’t crash at 350 meters out. He’s a talent,” Petacchi added. “The race only finishes on the finish line, he learned that. He lost a great occasion; he cried. You could see it that he was upset. That’s normal. After 300 kilometers, you get there and you know that you could’ve won it had it not been for a stupid crash.”
Gaviria kept going. He won two stages in Poland, the Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem, and Paris-Tours.
The win in Paris-Tours made many sit up and take notice. Gaviria kicked with around 600 to 500 meters to race and held off his rivals.
“That was huge what he did,” Petacchi added. “If the things go as they should, he should match Peter Sagan. He has those characteristics to do it. He’ll get his experience in the Giro this year and then have an opportunity to race the Tour in the future, for sure starting to win the green jersey.”
Petacchi, who grew up on the coast near the Sanremo parcours, said that his 2005 win was the best moment in his career. He is opening his knowledge base for Gaviria.
“You have to race it well. You have to stay protected. It doesn’t have many climbing meters, but it’s long and nervous with a high average pace. You have to eat well and take care of yourself,” Petacchi added.
“In the end, to confront the Poggio, even if it’s not a difficult climb, after the Cipressa, you need to have some gas in your tank. He has to sprint and beat riders like [John] Degenkolb, [Mark] Cavendish, [Arnaud] Démare, or whoever arrives there with him.”
Gaviria raced at his new home Wednesday in Lido di Camaiore and helped Quick-Step nearly win the stage. They lost the team time trial by 16 seconds to BMC Racing. The race continues for six more days and offers Gaviria a couple of chances to win a stage, as he did in 2016.
“First, I need to think about Tirreno and getting condition here, and possibly win,” said Gaviria
“I just hope in my career that I’ll have a chance to win Sanremo. I know now what it means to ride the final and ride seven hours in my bike. Now I’m more concentrated on that final.”