The Colombian took victory at the head of a stellar sprinting field on a pan-flat opening day on the Pacfic coast, moving into the race lead as he sprinted clear of not only Ewan and Sagan, but also the likes of Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).
The early part of the race was animated by Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) and Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko-Citadel) who formed a two-man breakaway for much of the day, but with a simple circuit around Long Beach and a strong sprinting field there was never any chance of this move staying away.
Putt and Krasilnikau were comfortably caught on the penultimate of the 12 city centre circuits before the sprinters’ lead-out trains started to form for the expected bunch gallop.
The bumping and barging started with around five kilometres to go, but it was not until Quick-Step Floors hit the front with five kilometres to go that any team was able to take the race by the horns.
The Belgian team were briefly disrupted by Dimension Data, but Maximiliano Richeze was given a free run through the final 400m with Gaviria in his wheel, with only Luka Mezgec bringing up Ewan on the other side of the road posing a real challenge.
However for all their success in the Giro d’Italia, Mitchelton-Scott couldn’t continue with their roll stateside, and Gaviria was given too much of a head-start and comfortably held on to beat Ewan as Sagan came from a long way back to take third.
The Tour of California continues on Tuesday with a 157km stage culminating in a summit finish on Gibraltor Road.
Tour of California 2018, stage one: Long Beach to Long Beach, 134.5km
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-02-23
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
6. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
8. Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
9. Tyler Magner (USA) Rally Cycling
10. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 3-02-13
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 4 secs
3. Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare, at same time
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6 secs
5. Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Holowesko-Citadel, at same time
6. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data, at 9 secs
7. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors, at same time
8. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 10 secs
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
10. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon, at same time