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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 February 2019

Fernando Gaviria off to a flyer with UAE Team Emirates after winning first stage at Vuelta a San Juan

Colombian sprinter edges his rivals in the opening stage of the tour in Argentina

Fernando Gaviria, third left, wins the final sprint to claim the opening stage of the 2019 Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates
Fernando Gaviria, third left, wins the final sprint to claim the opening stage of the 2019 Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina. Courtesy UAE Team Emirates

Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria has kicked off his UAE Team Emirates career in perfect style by winning the opening stage of the 2019 Vuelta a San Juan in his first race for the UCI World Tour outfit.

Gaviria, who signed for UAE Team Emirates in the off-season following two years at Etixx–Quick-Step, out-sprinted his rivals at the end of the 159.1km stage from San Juan to Pocito, crossing the line ahead of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA rider Matteo Malucelli and Sam Bennett of Bora-Hansgrohe.

The 24-year-old Colombian's victory was set up by a well-orchestrated team effort as the UAE Team Emirates lead-out train got their man in place at the front of the peloton in the final two kilometres.

In the final 500-metres, Gaviria moved into prime position before timing his sprint to perfection, crossing the line in three hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds for his 35th professional win.

“I’m super happy when I win. Above all because I have changed teams and I was looking for a confirmation," said Gaviria, who won the 2017 Giro d'Italia points classification title in 2017.

"UAE Team Emirates is improving year after year and becoming the strongest in the world and I’m happy to be a part of this project. In my old team, I learned so much and now I’m bringing all of that knowledge with me in my new chapter.

"I want to thank my team because they worked so well. Even if we are young, we have so much talent. We prepared very well in the winter and in the last days here in San Juan before the race. In the sprint, I was very relaxed because knew that I could win.”

Gaviria will now wear the leader's jersey in the 160.2km second stage from Chimbas to Punta Negra. However, with five climbs over the top of the Punta Negra, Gaviria and his fellow sprinters are not expected to be in contention.

Updated: January 28, 2019 03:42 PM

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