No South American has ever won Paris-Roubaix, but Etixx-Quick Step’s Fernando Gaviria may have designs on being the first.
The Colombian sprinter is embarking on his first full season in the WorldTour, where he can race in the events he grew up watching on television.
While the track World Championships in London this March may mean his cobbled Classics debut will have to wait for another year, Gaviria says he has always had a harboured a desire to race Paris-Roubaix.
“Etixx-Quick Step put a contract on the table after [the 2015] San Luis and I couldn’t say no to this chance, especially as I’m fascinated not only by sprints, but also by the cobbles, and Etixx – Quick-Step is the best team in the world when it comes to these one-day races,” Gaviria wrote on a blog on the Etixx-Quick Step website.
“Paris-Roubaix is my favourite Classic, I watched it on TV on numerous occasions and seeing how riders are capable of overcoming all the obstacles and the suffering for six or seven hours was really inspiring. Hopefully, one day I will ride there and test myself.”
Gaviria made his name at the 2015 Tour de San Luis, beating Mark Cavendish twice in the opening three stages. The Colombian would then go on to ride with Cavendish for Etixx at the Tour of Britain.
He’s already notched up his first win of 2016, taking stage one in San Luis ahead of Peter Sagan, and says that joining Etixx will give him the chance to develop as a rider on the road and track.
“In December I got to attend my first training camp with Etixx–Quick Step and realised immediately that this is more than a team, is a family,” he said.
“All the riders gave me a warm welcome and I had the opportunity to finally meet Tom Boonen, a real legend, who inspired me since many years ago.
“In Denia, together with the staff, I laid out my schedule for 2016: as it goes, after the Tour de San Luis, I will return to Europe for two French stage races, Tour du Haut Var and Tour de Provence.
“Afterwards, I will commit to the track, hoping for a good performance at the World Championships in London. This year I will mix road with track, but I can’t say I have any particular goals.
“I just want to develop, to become more professional and to stick to my philosophy, which is to make the most out of every opportunity and to enjoy each day, taking one thing at a time.”