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“If everything goes right with him, he will be huge. I can’t judge if he is the new Bettini, Sagan or Cavendish, but I am sure he is going to make it far. He is going to give the older sprinters some headaches, trust me.”

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep / Tim De Waele

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29.11.2015 @ 13:26 Posted by Joseph Doherty

It is safe to say Brian Holm knows a thing or two about top sprinters, having been the man in the car behind Mark Cavendish’s top successes at the HTC team, before guiding him to more wins at Etixx-QuickStep. The Danish DS is now predicting greatness for Fernando Gaviria, who already has three wins to his name before his neo-pro year in 2016.

 

“Gaviria, our Colombian sprinter, is the most exciting thing I have seen for many years in cycling,” Holm told CyclingTips on Thursday. “He did some crazy stuff I never saw before, really. He was going so fast in the Ride London Classic, the one day race. Okay he got a cramp in the last five kilometres, but he was unbelievable there. Then he went on to ride the Tour of Britain… Until he got the problem with his knee [which caused his withdrawal from the race prior to stage five – ed.], he was riding on the front, pulling the bunch for 150 kilometres. When it was splitting up, he was still with the first on the climbs despite pulling for that distance.”

 

Of course the craziest thing the young Colombian did was destroy Andre Greipel in the sprint into Blythe to take his third win of the season. While racing in January at San Luis, he beat Mark Cavendish twice to win his first two races.

 

“Greipel had already launched his sprint,” he recollected. “He [Gaviria] was basically looking around for Cav, to lead him out, but Cav was not there. Then he went himself and beat Greipel. That was just crazy, what he did.”

 

We may not see the best of the youngster in 2016 as he prepares for the rack at the Rio Olympics, but Holm still expects wins from a rider the team thinks can be great. Not that his track goals are a problem, as Marcel Kittel will shoulder the burden of winning sprints in 2016. 

 

Holm admits he doesn’t know that much about Kittel, but some reports from Kittel’s old director sportifs at Giant-Alpecin were far from glowing.

 

“I spoke to his sports directors and they simply said he was too lazy last season. According to Kittel, he was racing too early after his illness. So I don’t know.”

 

“He will either do it or he won’t. We have to wait and see for him. Maybe he can win, come back like the old Kittel, like last year, and win a lot of stages. He was superior last year in cycling, like Greipel was this year. If a sprinter loses his morale, it is really, really difficult to get it back, so we will see.”

 

Nonetheless, Holm confirmed the team will back Kittel fully to help him win more Tour stages and spend another day in Yellow at the Tour de France.

 

But as for Gaviria, Holm says the sky is the limit, saying he could be the next Cavendish, Sagan or Bettini, thanks to his ability to last long days in the saddle and get over climbs before still producing a rapid finish.

 

“Gaviria is a complete rider. He can climb also. He is like Sagan,” he said. “He can get over the small climbs, even when he has been pulling the whole day. Most sprinters aren’t exactly climbers, but for sure he can do it also. He has got something extra, and is still so fast.”

 

“If everything goes right with him, he will be huge. I can’t judge if he is the new Bettini, Sagan or Cavendish, but I am sure he is going to make it far. He is going to give the older sprinters some headaches, trust me.”

 

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