It did not take an expert eye to see something was off with Fernando Gaviria's sprinting style at the finish of stage five of the Giro d'Italia.
While his fellow fast men pushed through their biggest gear, the UAE-Team Emirates sprinter was pedalling noticeably faster on the run in to Messina, which didn't mean he was going any quicker, sadly for him.
The immediate assumption was that something was up with his gearing, with it being unlikely that the Colombian would choose to have to make so many revolutions on a flat bunch sprint; it was later revealed to be his derailleur that was the issue.
Gaviria was clearly frustrated at the finish, banging his front wheel up and down as he crossed the line in second. He had done the hard bit, getting over the day's categorised climb without being distanced, unlike Mark Cavendish and Caleb Ewan.
His positioning was good, he had the time to come around Arnaud Démare, he had a great opportunity to end the Grand Tour stage drought that dates back to the 2019 Giro... and yet he could just not manage it.
Immediately after the stage, Gaviria would not be drawn on what caused his anger as he crossed the line, saying instead "it's something I can't say in the interview". Perhaps he did not want to risk angering a sponsor, particularly in the final year of his contract.
However, once back to the UAE team bus, he revealed it was a problem with his derailleur which meant he was stuck in the wrong gear for the sprint, ruining his chances.
"I felt really good today and I was looked after so well for the whole stage," the Colombian said. "I had problems with my derailleur in the end and I couldn’t get in the gear I needed. It was a hectic final and I think someones wheel may have touched me from behind. It’s really frustrating and I could not hide it on the line but these are things that can happen in races.
"Did it cost me the victory? I don’t know, because Démare was also very strong today. The main thing is the legs are good and we’re really motivated and focussed for another chance tomorrow."
As one of the pure sprinters in the bunch, Gaviria impressed by hanging onto the peloton as it was put under pressure on the categorised climb of the Portella Mandrazzi. An opportunity to take part in a pure bunch sprint with some of the favourites missing does not come along too often, so his annoyance can be understood.
"We tried, and I was really disappointed because I had good legs," he said. "After the climb I felt really good then I’m happy with that. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and try again.
"We lost [leadout man Max] Richeze.. then it was impossible to come back. We feel really good and strong together again. We are really happy again."
Better fortune is needed for Gaviria to succeed once again on the biggest stage, but with the right gear, he might just manage it.
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