Fernando Gaviria's UAE Tour didn’t get off to the flying start he and his home-based team were hoping for on stage 1, but the Colombian was adamant that his form was still in top-notch condition and that he had multiple chances to turn his race around.
Gaviria came home in a disappointing 20th place in the Dubai Silicon Oasis and was never in contention once the sprint opened. He trailed home well behind the winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in what was billed by many as the most high-profile sprint of the season.
Gaviria is at the UAE Tour alongside many of the best sprinters in the world, with Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan and Sam Bennett all present and accounted for. Much was expected of Gaviria after he ended 2019 in better form and then won three stages at the Vuelta a San Juan in January.
However, he was boxed in on stage 1 here in the Middle East, and although he was disappointed with the result, he told Cyclingnews that his condition is still good enough to win.
"The team is great. We’ll try every day but yesterday was nothing special. That’s cycling, and it happens sometimes. It was a really complicated finish with a lot of roundabouts in the end but that’s okay. My form is good and I’ve been really happy with my performance," he said.
"In the next few says we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a number of opportunities left in the race and we’ll try a few more things."
The UAE Tour is second race in which Gavaria has had a chance to link up with his desired lead-out man Max Richeze. The double act rode together at QuickStep until Gaviria was signed by UAE Team Emirates at the start of 2019.
Gaviria had hoped that Richeze would join him for his debut season at his new team but QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere was unwilling to let the Argentine rider leave, and the two riders had to wait a full year of competition before they could race on the same team once more.
According to Gaviria – who had a difficult 2019 for the main due to injury and illness – UAE’s willingness to sign Richeze was a strong show of faith in the pair’s ability to produce results.
"It’s incredible to be back working with Max again. It’s made me so happy because the team made him a contract in order to help me and it showed a lot of faith. He’s always good."
Stages 2, 3 and 5 at the UAE Tour are destined to be decided by the climbers and GC riders, with Gaviria’s next opportunity to win coming on stage 4.