Garavia kills it in Elk Grove

Garavia at the start in Stockton. photo twisted spoke

If you’re a WorldTour, badass sprinter capable of winning at the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia or Tour of California, you have to be incredibly fast.

You also have to fortunate and lucky in a mechanical sense. Because nobody hits the line in first place with a jacked-up bike or a flat tire. That ain’t cutting the mustard in any way, shape or form. No bueno, fast-twich superheroes.

Both of those issues took out hard-luck Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha). It was a bad day for both and you can have the tightest, most well-drilled lead-out train in the world but flat tire and slow bike change is a sprinter’s death sentence. Kittel’s sculpted hair remained intact but the flat tire messed up his chances.

Meanwhile Cavendish, who has a baby on the way in the next few days, had a pregnant pause on the run-in to Elk Grove. He and another rider tangled with each other and the result was a required bike change. With the help of a teammate, he raced back up to the peloton, but it was watts wasted and he didn’t figure in the final mad dash to the line.

Fernando Gaviria of Quickstep Floors was both lucky and incredibly fast. The team has worked hard to dial back his risk-taking and California was a good place to work on that balance of aggression and thoughtfulness. Gaviria mastered both as he accelerated past his rivals.

The Quickstep wolfpack was able to jump across the Atlantic and deliver Gaviria into the ideal place to hit the after-burners. That’s two stage wins for Garavia and in two days the final stage sprint in Sacramento would seem to be an inevitable three-peat.


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