Fernando Gaviria has confirmed he will lead UAE Team Emirates at the 2019 Giro d'Italia.
Starting in Bologna on Saturday May 11, Gaviria will be racing his second ever Giro after winning four stages and the points classification in 2017 whilst racing for Deceuninck - Quick-Step.
This achievement "lifted me into the elite sprinters' group" says the Colombian. "Those were beautiful and very important moments for me," Gaviria added, "the thought of having the chance to relive them is exciting."
Gaviria says the team will "make the most" of the opportunities presented to sprinters over the early stages of the race, but that "it will be very difficult to fight for the points classification" as the race heads into the mountains.
During his second Grand Tour appearance, the 2018 Tour de France, Gaviria took the yellow jersey after winning stage one. He didn't make it to Paris, though, after finishing outside the time limit alongside a number of other sprinters on stage 11, which was the second major day in the Alps.
UAE Team Emirates had to change their Giro tactics following the news that Fabio Aru would undergo leg surgery and miss the race, therefore shifting their focus to Gaviria. The team directors then went about building a squad of riders, due to be announced next week, around the Colombian with the goal of hunting down stage wins.
The 24-year-old has said he considers the Giro to be an important junction between the first and second parts of his season: "The missed Paris-Roubaix participation due to an illness closed the first part of my season earlier [than I had planned]. I observed a period of rest and then resumed training and was feeling good.
"The Giro d’Italia will be a highlight of my first year in the team, then we’ll think about the second part of the season".
Of the first nine stages before the first rest day, at least five of them are likely to end in sprint finishes. These stage wins are by no means guaranteed to Gaviria and UAE Team Emirates, with a big field of quality sprinters lining up to take on the first Grand Tour of the season.
Lotto-Soudal recently announced Caleb Ewan will lead the Belgian team at the Giro, after the Australian made the move from Mitchelton-Scott after struggling to come by Grand Tour apppearances with the Aussie outfit.
Italian champion Elia Viviani of Gaviria's old Deceuninck - Quick-Step team will also rival the Colombian for stage wins, as will Groupama-FDJ's Arnaud Démare.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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