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GUILIN, China (VN) — Team Quick-Step Floors will go to work over the next two months to make sure Fernando Gaviria develops into the strongest sprinter possible in 2018.
The 23-year-old Colombian has in his sights Milano-Sanremo, a debut in the monument cobbled classics, and Tour de France stages. The Belgian WorldTour team, which is losing Marcel Kittel to Katusha-Alpecin for next year, wants to be ready to deliver its improving sprint star to victory.
“We are going to work on the train in December when we meet for our camp and see how we can improve it for Fernando,” sport director Davide Bramati told VeloNews.
“Don’t forget that we signed Elia Viviani. We are going to make men available for him, a lead-out man and men ahead of him. In December we are going to work it all out and make sure they are supported for their goals.”
Bramati saw off his rider for the fifth stage of the Tour of Guangxi on Monday. Gaviria counts 13 wins so far this season with the stage race still running and his last appearance of 2017. The South China race ends Tuesday in Guilin.
Kittel has 14 victories, including five stages in the Tour de France. However, the team lacked enough money in its budget to keep all of its stars going into 2018.
Daniel Martin, who placed sixth in the Tour de France, is leaving for UAE Emirates. Kittel’s signing with Katusha will replace outgoing sprinter Alexander Kristoff on the Swiss-registered team.
Next year, Quick-Step will throw its weight behind Bob Jungels in stage races and Gaviria for the sprints. Italian Elia Viviani will join from Sky to sprint for victories when Gaviria is taking a break or when he’s at other races. Gaviria will skip the Giro d’Italia in 2018, where he won four times this year, and will race the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse ahead of the Tour.
Quick-Step is structuring its team to be ready. It signed Kristoff’s long-time helper Michael Morkov and new professional Fabio Jakobsen.
“We are thinking about Fernando’s team, for sure. The last man will be Max Richeze. We’ve hired some men like Morkov, we’ll see where we’re going to fit him in,” Bramati added.
“We will see how the train changes. We’ll work on it this winter. I’ll work on it with sport directors Tom Steels, Wilfried Peeters, and Brian Holm. We’ll see what the best solution is. We also have Fabio Sabatini, who was working for Kittel.”
Gaviria is also working to be ready for what he calls “an important season.” After a short break back in Colombia, he aims to start 2018 stronger with a consistent off-season of training.
“He came to us when he was young, he’s still young, but he’s gaining much experience,” Bramati said. “He’s improved quickly. He’s realized what he’s doing. The 2018 season will be an important year for him.”