Etixx – Quick-Step had another successful season in 2016, with 56 road wins alongside 69 other podium places. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team, and our penultimate instalment focuses on the final Classic of the season.
The 110th edition of Paris-Tours, the season's unofficial sixth Monument, gathered at the start the crème de la crème of the sprinter world, as all of fast men were keen on testing their condition and get a morale-boosting victory ahead of the World Championships in Doha. That's why any escape was doomed right from the start, no matter the gap, and the closing kilometers found the teams lined out at the front in anticipation of the bunch sprint, with the pre-race favourites jostling for position.
But it wasn't a bunch gallop this year after 252 kilometers, as one rider had something different in mind. Taking advantage of a corner that slowed down the peloton with less than 800 meters to go, Fernando Gaviria launched a well-timed attack, surprising everyone with a move coming straight from the velodrome, where he took two consecutive World Omnium titles (2015 and 2016).
The 22-year-old Colombian – who already had under his belt six victories in his first pro season with Etixx – Quick-Step – looked over his shoulder twice, but kept powering to the finish, and despite a frantic chase of the rival teams, they could not close that 20-meter gap he had; all that the other sprinters could do in the end was watch Fernando solo over the line and fight for the minor placings on the podium at Paris-Tours, the season's final one-day race. It was without any doubt the most prestigious victory of the South American's career, one which came just minutes after the team conquered the gold medals in the TTT race at the World Championships.
"I knew how important and big this race was, and this motivated me to get the victory, by far the most beautiful of my career. The race was long and tough, but I was fresh in the finale and decided to gamble everything on that late attack, knowing that the left-hand corner could play into my advantage. It was my last race of the year in the Etixx – Quick-Step kit and that made the success even more special", said Fernando Gaviria, the first Colombian rider to win the French Classic created all the way back in 1896.
Photo credit: ©Franck Faugere