Maximiliano Richeze: Fernando Gaviria was a major factor in my decision to join UAE Team Emirates
In this week's column from the cycling team, the new rider from Argentina discusses why he made the move over
Having only just joined the team, the first chance I had to meet everyone was in December at the training camp in Spain. Although I knew many people before, it’s important to build a relationship with everybody as this can help a lot in the races.
One person I did know before joining was my good friend, Fernando Gaviria. My friendship with Fernando was one of the main reasons that I joined the team – that was what pushed me to make the decision to change from Deceuninck-Quickstep to UAE Team Emirates. In the end I had four great years at Deceuninck, but I preferred to follow my heart and join Fernando.
In sport, it’s very rare that you find a friendship like mine and Fernando’s. It is so strong – he’s not just a teammate but also a friend. We room together at the races and live close by to each other in Monaco.
In other sports, two strikers may play well together in football and score lots of goals, likewise in cricket, a batsman may play well with someone else at the other end and score lots of runs. It’s all about having that trust in someone else, knowing where they will be, their strengths and how best to help them.
In cycling, a lead-out man and the sprinter have a special relationship. As a lead-out man, it is my job to safely navigate Fernando through the chaos of a bunch finish and make sure he doesn’t waste energy he needs for the sprint; keeping him out of trouble and getting him to the perfect place so he can launch his attack and take the victory. Helping Fernando win at the highest level is important to me and something that motivates me a lot.
Fernando and I have the same racing mentality, and we see it in the same way, so as the race is coming to an end we never talk much. He just needs to call out "Max" and I understand what he wants. When he calls my name, I know that he has lost his wheel or we are not in the right position, and then we look to change.
Fernando is a special character and it can take time to gain his confidence but, with me, from the very first race, we understood each other, and he trusted me completely. When you have that relationship off the bike, you always manage to give a little bit more for your teammate – or, in this case, my friend.
We’re working hard to return to the highest level and bring success for the UAE Team Emirates.
Having just finished our first race of the 2020 season together in my home country Argentina, Fernando has already notched up three victories which is great for the team. It’s always special for me to return to Argentina and a great opportunity to see friends and family.
The fans always make it one of my favourite races of the year and to wear the national champions jersey this year and have had a good race with Fernando also helped a lot.
As a lead-out man you are judged on the results of your sprinter, so I am content with how the Vuelta a San Juan went overall. A fourth place in the General Classification for fellow new man Brandon McNulty was also great to see in his first outing for the team.
I think we animated the race well and proved we could all work together. Everyone played their part and there were very few times where a UAE Team Emirates rider wasn’t at the front leading the peloton.
The season is still early and there is plenty of work to do before the next block of racing, but it is a promising start for the team and a sign of things to come.
Next up for me is the Tour Colombia where we are going with many options. Sebastian Molano and me for the sprints and Fabio Aru and the other Colombian riders will be active in the mountain stages. It’s a beautiful race and the Colombian public have an amazing love for the sport of cycling.
Shortly after Colombia is the UAE Tour starting on February 23 from the Pointe on the palm and finishing on the 29th in Abu Dhabi. It’s no secret that the UAE Tour is one of the biggest goals of the season.
Fernando won a stage last year and we will go there looking for the win wherever we can. [Tadej] Pogačar will also be there to challenge for the GC so we have many options.
It’s our home race so we know all eyes will be on us that week but that’s the way we like it. I’d like to thank all the UAE fans for their support and look forward to seeing you all soon at the UAE Tour.
Updated: February 6, 2020 08:35 AM