Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) has lost his second straight sprint in 2015 to 20-year-old Fernando Gaviria. Just as in stage one, the Colombian, riding for his national team, jumped Cavendish early and held him off for stage three of the Tour de San Luis in Juana Koslay, Argentina.
Cavendish, with over 100 career wins to his name, finished three bike lengths back, gesturing angrily behind him towards third-place finisher Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida).
The stage win was just the second of Gaviria's professional road career. As a junior, he won the Omnium and Madison at the 2012 World Championships, and this winter in London, won the Omnium at the World Cup.
Gaviria went longer than he did on Monday to win his stage. Team Movistar led Lampre and Etixx, but on Wednesday Colombia also put its train in place. Gaviria and a team-mate latched on to Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), while Cavendish had World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and three other Etixx team-mates.
One of Cavendish's men in black moved over to let Kwiatkowski pull, Pozzato swung off as well to the left and Gaviria shot like an arrow from a bow with around 200 metres to race. Yauheni Hutarovich (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Cavendish tried to respond, but neither came close.
Cavendish, who won a stage in the 2013 Tour de San Luis, was further from victory than he was on Monday. Modolo again placed third and Hutarovich fourth.
To prepare for San Luis and the start of the 2015 season, Cavendish raced two six-day track events in Ghent and Zurich. He is focusing on Milan-San Remo and the Tour de France, after a rough 2014 season that saw him crash and abandon the Tour on day one.
Etixx gave it everything for a Cavendish sprint win. After an early escape faded, it had four riders on the front, but in the end it wasn't to be.
"It was a fast finish, and I felt super good," Cavendish said. "The team rode incredible again all day. But the Colombians went super, super fast the last few hundred metres.
"I think we just hesitated a bit and that's a shame because it was the exact opposite of what we did the first stage when I let the team down that day. I had too much ground to make up today, which is too bad because the team really did ride great today going into the finish.
"The last kilometre slipped away a little bit. But Gaviria deserved the win again today. He's a track rider, so he's very fast and he can go super long. Being able to sprint from a distance like that is a sign of a track rider. It's very impressive.
"As for me, I'm happy with my form and the team is riding well overall. I'd still like to try and win a stage here at Tour de San Luis and it would be nice to get the first victory of the year out of the way. I said it after the first stage, we have a couple new guys here with Lukasz Wisniowski and Fabio Sabatini and they're doing a great job. This is also Sabatini's first race as the final leadout man, so the first race of the season is an important time for all of us to get this right and I'm confident we will."
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