The 22-year-old became the first South American to win the race created in 1896.
Colombian prodigy Fernando Gaviria struck again, this time in his last race of the season in the Etixx – Quick-Step kit, winning the 110th edition of Paris-Tours with a bang and adding another big victory to what's quickly becoming an impressive palmares. On Sunday, after 252 kilometers between Dreux and Tours, everyone was expecting for a bunch sprint to decide the winner of the final Classic of the season, but Fernando had other plans and surprised his opponents with a daring attack in the last 600 meters, when he took the right side of the road in a move which reminded of his exploits on the track.
Gaviria, who's in his first year with Etixx – Quick-Step, put some distance between him and the peloton, and despite the chasers digging hard to reel in him, they couldn't come back before the finish line. So big was the gap, that Fernando started celebrating with 15 meters to go, as he held off the stellar field on the legendary Avenue de Grammont for his most important victory to date, on his way to becoming the first Colombian victor in the race won in the past by François Faber, Briek Schotte or Rik Van Looy.
Paris-Tours, which acted as dress rehearsal for many sprinters ahead of the World Championships in Qatar, saw Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Jonas Van Genechten (IAM Cycling) finish behind Fernando on the podium, while teammate Matteo Trentin – the 2015 champion – came home in fourth position, giving Etixx – Quick-Step two men in the top 10.
This is the most beautiful win of my career.
"I knew how important and big this race was, I know its history, and this motivated me to get the victory today. It was tough and fast today, but I was fresh in the finale, when I decided to take advantage of a corner which slowed down the peloton before the last straight. As soon as I attacked, I went full gas to the line and managed to hold the pack at bay. I am very happy and I want to thank the team for the support I got. It was my final race of the year in this kit and this makes the success very special. Also, to get news that the team won the team time trial world title gives me even more satisfaction", said Fernando, whose huge burst of speed and solo attack in the final kilometer will be remembered for many years.
In his maiden pro season, the 22-year-old Colombian won stages at the Tour de San Luis, Tour de Provence, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Pologne, but also Grand Prix Impanis-Van Petegem and Paris-Tours, and these remarkable results will make him a rider to watch out for at the upcoming World Championships.
"In Doha it's going to be a completely different story and the race will be made even more difficult by the heat, but I'm going there confident, relaxed and in good condition, so we'll see what will happen", concluded Fernando, who will lead the 9-man squad Colombia will line up at the start.
Photo credit: ©Franck Faugere