Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team (USA) – The Colombian claimed his first World Tour win of the year after an amazing work of his Quick-Step Floors teammates.
A Wolfpack's strength is unity, and Quick-Step Floors showed that for the umpteenth time this season, putting in a dominant display on stage 1 of the Tour of California – which took place on the wide roads of Long Beach, the Pacific Coast town that made its return to the race after more than a decade – and delivering Fernando Gaviria to a maiden victory at the US event.
"The team was perfect, controlling the breakaway and keeping me all the time protected near the front of the bunch. My legs felt strong today and I couldn't have asked for more from this opening stage. Winning my first ever race in the United States is really great, the cherry on the top being the yellow jersey which I now get to sport on Monday", said Fernando, the first Colombian in four years to take a victory at the Tour of California.
Having won 11 stages at the previous participations, their team was one of the hot favourites on Sunday and controlled the 134.5km stage from the gun, with Kasper Asgreen, Laurens De Plus, Iljo Keisse, Jhonatan Narvaez and Alvaro Hodeg all keeping the two escapees in check, the latter also getting involved at the second intermediate sprint. The pressure of the bunch started to pay dividends and the leaders were mopped up inside the last ten kilometers, where Quick-Step Floors showed physical presence, positioning, timing and speed, as they began setting up what proved to be a tense bunch gallop.
Coming off the wheel of flawless lead-out man Maximiliano Richeze, Fernando Gaviria kicked out with 200 meters to go and just like Eliot Ness, he was untouchable as he roared victorious over the line for the 30th time in his career, beating Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) in the process.
"Iljo did a tremendous job by bringing us into position, then Alvaro picked up the speed and Max provided a perfect lead-out. It was a bit chaotic out there, but that's life in the sprints and thanks to this outstanding team I came out on top today. I was really motivated to get a victory after being sidelined through injury, so I trained and worked hard, and today it all paid off. I also want to say a big thank you to the wonderful fans who greeted us with a lot of enthusiasm, they were great", the 23-year-old said after bringing win number 30 of Quick-Step Floors this season, one which netted him three distinctive jerseys, for the overall, points and youth classification.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images.