The rider regarded as a possible successor to Mark Cavendish landed his biggest result since starting as a stagiaire with the Etixx – Quick-Step team, with Fernando Gaviria winning stage four of the Aviva Tour of Britain on Wednesday.
Cavendish’s future with the team is very much up in the air, with the Briton at the end of his current contract and rumours suggesting that he will be leaving the squad.
The team is remaining tight-lipped at this point in time. Asked by CyclingTips this week if it would confirm that Cavendish was leaving, a team official declined to comment either way.
He has been linked to a possible transfer to a number of other teams, including MTN Qhubeka and Trek Factory Racing.
Earlier this year the squad confirmed that Gaviria would become a professional with the team in 2016. Before then, he was named as getting a stagiaire slot. Last month he took two stages in the Czech Cycling Tour and is now riding the Tour of Britain.
According to the Colombian, Cavendish was the designated number one rider for the day, but things didn’t work out for that card to be played.
Instead, the 21 year old had to take on the season’s dominant sprinter Andre Greipel himself.
To his credit, he was able to beat the German rider, who took four sprint wins in the Tour de France.
“Today is an important day in my career,” he said after the stage. “I won the race against the best sprinters in the world. But it wasn’t planned like that. My job today was to pull in the sprint for Mark.
“Matteo [Trentin] entered the breakaway, which covered us so we could save our energy for the finale. But Mark was a little bit boxed in the last corner at 400 meters to go, and he couldn’t really sprint. So, I looked around me and I made the decision to go for the sprint. I did my best, and at the end I saw that I was closing in on and passing Greipel.”
Gaviria made a big name for himself at this year’s Tour de San Luis when he beat Cavendish in two separate sprint finishes.
He is regarded as a huge talent and getting the better of two of the top names in world sprinting shows his speed.
He said that Wednesday’s result was a significant one for him.
“To me, when I crossed the line as the winner, it was a huge moment,” he acknowledged. “I beat one of the best sprinters in the pro peloton, a point of reference for a guy like myself. So, it’s really an honour to get this victory.”
Riding the Tour of Britain gives him a chance to get to know the team better, and also to gain experience. He said that he has been learning a lot each day, and that he believed that the team will likely have more chances in the days ahead.
“We will see what we can accomplish,” he said. Before then, though, he wants to think about what he achieved. “Today I just want to enjoy this moment, which is one of the best for me so far.”
The success is particularly welcome as the team’s stage two winner, Petr Vakoc, didn’t start the stage. He crashed heavily inside the final five kilometres of Tuesday’s stage and lost the race leader’s jersey as a result.
Gaviria’s triumph turns things around for the team, and also illustrates just why he is seen as a star of the future.