‘It was a special stage - last year I went home in an ambulance’: Fernando Gaviria takes second Vuelta a San Juan glory

The Colombian powerhouse has had a picture-perfect start with his new team

Fernando Gaviria (left) has taken double wins at the Vuelta a San Juan (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sprint star Fernando Gaviria made a big statement with his second stage win at the Vuelta a San Juan, having crashed out on the same roads one year ago.

The Colombian has moved to UAE Team Emirates from Quick-Step but is not showing any signs of rust after the switch.

Gaviria took his second glory of the week on stage four, after being released in perfect position by team-mate Simone Consonni and holding off Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The victory came 12 months after Gaviria left the Argentinian stage race in an ambulance on the same stage, crashing 45km from the finish.

>>> ‘It’s just a jersey’: Sagan says pressure still the same even without rainbow bands

After his success on Wednesday (January 30), the 24-year-old said: “It was a special stage because one year ago I went home in an ambulance.

“It’s great to win a second time here, paying back the work of the team who fought those other teams and helped me for the sprint finish.

“It was a high-level sprint against serious rivals like Sagan and [Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Alvaro] Hodeg.

“The team was perfect in the approach of the last corner, then Consonni was very good at launching me.”

Gaviria also took victory on stage one, his first race day of the 2019 season.

He has now won his opening race of the season every year since 2015.

>>> Deceuninck – Quick-Step miss Vuelta a San Juan podium ceremony amid Iljo Keisse controversy

Many sprinters take time to settle into a new set-up, particularly when leaving one as dominant as Quick-Step.

German sprinter Marcel Kittel left the Belgian outfit ahead of the 2018 season to join Katusha-Alpecin, and failed to pick up his first victory until Tirreno-Adriatico in March last year.

Australian Caleb Ewan is the latest top-shelf sprinter to switch teams, leaving Mitchelton-Scott for Lotto-Soudal.

After getting off to a blistering start in the pre-WorldTour criteriums in Australia, Ewan crossed the line first on stage five of the Tour Down Under.

But the 24-year-old was stripped of the win for headbutting in the final, leaving him without a win at the highest level.

Gaviria has not been hit with the same sprinter’s drought, his double San Juan victories making an emphatic statement in the early season.

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