The most promising riders in the pro ranks as chosen by the pros themselves
Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
Fernando Gaviria won two Omnium World Championship titles and in the 2015 Tour de San Luis, one of his first international meetings, he blasted ahead of Mark Cavendish to win two stages.
Quick-Step signed him and have not regretted the decision. The 21-year-old was in the hunt for a Milan-San Remo win until a Via Roma crash and powered away from his rivals at the end of the season to win Paris-Tours.
“Gaviria is one young rider to watch,” Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) told Cycling Weekly.
“He’s a super class cyclist and I’m sure that he has an incredible future in front of him. He’s also from a country that doesn’t have the culture of sprinters and Classics riders, but for me, he’s a big rider.
“Last year, in some races, had he not crashed, he could’ve done big things. Like Milan-San Remo. Then in Paris-Tours, he did that attack. You need to be very strong to do that.”
Gaviria’s team-mate Marcel Kittel agrees: “You should watch Gaviria, that’s easy to say. He’s a combination of a lightweight rider with great speed in the end. It gives him the ability to go to many races with a chance to win.”
Riccardo Minali (Astana)
In his final season outside the pro ranks in 2016, Riccardo Minali took only two top-three finishes, but the young sprinter has hit the ground running at Astana.
Such performances have already impressed team leader Fabio Aru.
“Riccardo Minali has shown so much already,” Aru said of his 21-year-old Astana team-mate. “In the Dubai Tour, he was already up there and that’s not easy in your first race as a professional.
“He’s not nervous, on the other hand, he’s pushing it, placing fifth and third in sprints behind Kittel. That means he’s already there with the big riders.”
Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates)
Another young Italian stallion is Filippo Ganna, who is racing in his first season as a professional with UAE Team Emirates.
“If you look in our team ranks, we have have Filippo Ganna,” says Ganna’s team-mate Ben Swift.
“He had the individual pursuit title and he’s preparing for the Track World Championships now, but in a few years time, he could be very good,” said Swift.
However Swift admits that his knowledge of the pelotons young guns is far from comprehensive: “Don’t ask me about the climbers because I don’t know!”
David Gaudu (FDJ)
With the list of previous winners including Miguel Indurain, Laurent Fignon, and Nairo Quintana, the Tour de l’Avenir is the under 23 race that perhaps provides the best indication of future stars.
Frenchman David Gaudu took victory in the 2016 edition of the race, and has already impressed some of his fellow countrymen.
“The clear one for us is the Frenchman who won the Tour de L’Avenir, David Gaudu,” said Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), who took sixth place in the Tour de l’Avenir in 2010, and second in the Tour de France behind Chris Froome in 2016.
“He will be a climber to watch. I haven’t raced with him yet, but he has some proper good results in the amateur ranks. He clearly has big climbing abilities.”
Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) and Nuno Bico (Movistar)
Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo) and Nuno Bico (Movistar) also debuted this season and rode the Volta ao Algarve – a home race for the two Portuguese.
Both were on team duties in that race, but Guerreiro was given some leadership duties his very first race as a professional at the Tour Down Under, where he took two top-tens in bunch sprints despite being more at home on rolling terrain.
As for Bico, he has achieved consistent results in lower level Spanish races for a number of years, and should prove a strong domestique for Movistar.
“We have many young riders coming up, but I want to talk about my Portuguese countrymen Ruben Guerreiro and Nuno Bico,” 2013 world champion Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) said.
“Guerreiro with Trek, he’s a great rider and you already saw that in the Tour Down Under. Those two riders can already be at the top in two to three years. There are another two or three, but I want to note those two.
“Guerreiro goes well over the climbs, he’s not that big, so he’s one for rolling terrain. Nuno Bico on Movistar goes strongly on the climbs and also on the flats, in the time trials. Keep an eye on them.”
Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb)
Like Gaviria, Sam Oomen is now in his second year as a professional and is starting to deliver pro-level results in line with his performances as an espoir.
A talented climber, Oomen rode some high level races last year, even managing a GC win at the Tour de l’Ain, and followed that up with a strong 15th place at the Ruta del Sol this year.
“Looking at the Dutchies, I’d say Sam Oomen, who rides for Sunweb,” explained Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo). “I saw him last year in Tour de l’Ain, he was pretty strong. He won it.
“He’s a climber, a small and tiny guy, but a good talent for the future. I expect him to develop a bit.”
“He has a big engine, it’s clear. If he develops and come to our team, then he can be a star! Maybe that’s my future, I can try to coach these riders. That could be my next objective, teaching the younger riders.”