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In the exact same finish that was the scene for his breakthrough 12 months ago, Gaviria crushed the opposition in the bunch sprint on stage 2 of the Tour de San Luis; the Colombian also took the overall lead

ELIA VIVIANI

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FERNANDO GAVIRIA

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PETER SAGAN

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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19.01.2016 @ 22:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Twelve months after his big breakthrough, Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) returned to the scene of his first major road victory in winning fashion as he was in a class of his own in the bunch sprint in Villa Mercedes on the second stage of the Tour de San Luis. After a dramatic finale that saw he break being caught less than one kilometre from the finish, he was given the perfect lead-out by overall leader Maximilano Richeze and easily held off Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Elia Viviani (Italy) to claim both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

 

One year ago Fernando Gaviria created a major surprise when he beat Mark Cavendish in the first bunch sprint at the Tour de San Luis. The Colombian was faster in the Brit on the big boulevard in Villa Mercedes and would go on to repeat that win two days later in Juana Koslay.

 

The performances allowed Gaviria to turn pro with Etixx-QuickStep that are determined to turn him into the dominant sprinter in the future. Today he returned to the scene of his breakthrough win with the intention to underline that his win was no fluke.

 

Last year Etixx-QuickStep were beaten but this time Gaviria made sure that they came out on top where Cavendish had failed 12 months ago. After a fantastic lead-out by race leader Maximilano Richeze, Gaviria easily beat Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani into the minor podium positions.

 

However, there was no guarantee that the race would be decided in a bunch sprint. Etixx-QuickStep had no help in the chase and so the early five-rider break of Juan Curuchet (Argentina), Ariel Sivori (Matanceros), Genki Yamamoto (Nippo), Emiliano Ibarra (San Juan) and Caio Godoy (Brazil) still held a five-minute advantage as they entered the final 20km. The escapees realized that they were possibly fighting for a stage win and so the attacking started.

 

Godoy launched the first move and Sivori quickly responded, slowly bridging the gap to the line Argentinean. It took a lot more time for Yamamoto to also rejoin the leaders but he made the junction to make it a trio. Yamamoto took just a few moments to recover from his effort before he made a solo move but Godoy and Sivori managed to bring him back.

 

The trio started to cooperate as they realized that Etixx-QuickStep had finally started to chase for real and as they entered the final 11km, their advantage was down to 2.50. Godoy was doing the bulk of the work but could see the gap melt away and it was only 1.30 with 6km to go.

 

Passing the 5km to go banner, the advantage had been reduced to just a minute and as they entered the finishing straight just before the flamme rouge, the peloton had the break in sight. Yamamoto made one final desperate attempt to create the surprise and he managed to pass the flamme rouge as the lone leader.

 

However, it was all in vain as Etixx-QuickStep had now launched his lead-out and Yamamoto could only watch when Maximilano Richeze led the peloton past him. The race leader gave had Gaviria on his whel and when the Colombian started his sprint, he quickly put daylight into the rest and even had time to look back before he celebrated a dominant stage win.

 

With the win, Gaviria also took the overall lead with a 10-second advantage over his teammates. He faces a much harder test in tomorrow’s third stage which includes the first serious climbing. The first part is mainly flat with just two smaller climbs but in the finale the riders will tackle the well-known climb to Mirador del Sol. However, unlike in previous years, the race won’t finish at the top and the riders will descend to a flat finale, with the summit coming 11.4km from the finish

 

One for the sprinters

After the opening team time trial, the sprinters were expected to shine in stage 2 which brought the riders over 181.9km from San Luis to the traditional finish in Villa Mercedes. The first 18km were all uphill and led to the top of the only categorized climb but from there it was a downhill or flat run to the finishing city where only the wind seemed to potentially be able to prevent a bunch kick.

 

It was another brutally hot day when the riders gathered for the start of the second stage but that didn’t dampen the attacking spirit. With a tough uphill start, there were a number of accelerations before a six-rider break was formed when Juan Curuchet (Argentina), Ariel Sivori (Matanceros), Genki Yamamoto (Nippo), Emiliano Ibarra (San Juan), Caio Godoy (Brazil) and Israel Nuno (Inteja) escaped.

 

Sivori takes the mountains jersey

Sivori beat Ibarra and Nuno in the KOM sprint and so became the first KOM leader of the race and then the escapees started to work together. At the 26km mark, they had extended their lead to 3.30 and it was 4.18 when they approached the first intermediate sprint after 53.1km where Curuchet beat Sivori and Ibarra tin the fight for the maximum points.

 

The gap continued to grow and when the riders entered the final 100km, it had gone out to 5.20. Etixx-QuickStep were setting the pace in the peloton but had not initiated their chase yet.

 

More sprint points for Curuchet

Curuchet also beat Sivori and Ibarra in the second intermediate when the gap had been reduced to 4.50 as the peloton was slowly winding up the pace. The gap stayed around 4.45 for a while though until Etixx-QuickStep again accelerated.

 

He escapees reacted and that was too much for Nuno who was dropped from the break with 60km to go. Their faster pace meant that they still had a 5-minute advantage when they entered the final 40km.

 

Surprisingly, the gap went out to 6 minutes just 10km later and it suddenly looked like a surprise was in store. It was still 5 minutes with 20km to go where Godoy launched the first attack and started the exciting finale.

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