Fernando Gaviria targets Giro d’Italia sprints after Tour de Romandie success

 Fernando Gaviria wins stage 5 of the 2023 Tour de Romandie

Fernando Gaviria wins stage 5 of the 2023 Tour de Romandie

Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) says he is ready for the Giro d’Italia sprints following his impressive victory in the final day of the Tour de Romandie.

28 year-old Gaviria racked up the 51st victory of his career by cleverly anticipating his sprint rivals in the technical run-in to Geneva on Sunday, beating Nikias Arndt (DSM) and stage 2 winner Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers).

Gaviria afterwards confirmed that the victory, his biggest since he joined Movistar after several ‘wilderness’ years, was an excellent omen for the fast-upcoming Giro d’Italia, where he’ll be taking part for the sixth time.

The Colombian won’t have to wait too long for a sprint opportunity. After Saturday’s opening time trial, stage 2 down the Adriatic coastline to San Salvo looks certain to end in a bunch sprint, and stage 5 to Salerno is also a possibility for the fastmen.

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“It was very fast on the earlier climbs and I wasn’t up there at those points,” Gaviria explained after his win in Geneva, “but I did all I could to hold on as best as possible. The guy supported me as best I could to get me back in the game, and I wanted to pay back the favour in the best way possible.”

“I concentrated on avoiding risks until the last kilometre, looked for my space and went for it just before the last bend. It’s a very important success.”

“I’ve trained very hard to be in top condition for the Giro and now I know I’m ready to give my best there and look for success.”

The Giro d’Italia has proved a happy hunting ground for Gaviria in the past. He first struck Grand Tour success back in 2017, when with QuickStep fast, while making his debut in three-week races. He won four stages as well as the points classification.

The Giro was also the scene of the Colombian’s most recent Grand Tour sprint win, a lone stage taken after Elia Viviani was relegated, back in 2019.

This year Gaviria will take on Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan),  Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Alberto Dainese (Team DSM), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) in the roughly half-dozen stages likely to end in bunch sprints in the 2023 Giro d’Italia.

For the first time in five years, too, rather than a time trial closing out the race, there will be a flat mass start stage on the last day, once again finishing in Rome, just as the race did in 2018, when the victory went to Ireland’s Sam Bennett.