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Rising star Gaviria kicks off 2016 in familiar fashion

SAN LUIS, Argentina (VN) — Exactly one year after he out-sprinted Mark Cavendish en route to his first career Tour de San Luis stage win, Fernando Gaviria took his first victory of 2016 on Tuesday, in the very same town of Villa Mercedes, Argentina. This time it was world champion Peter Sagan who settled for runner-up honors in Gaviria’s wake.

Back in 2015, Gaviria was the premier rider on the Colombian national selection in San Luis, having built a name for himself as a talented amateur on both the road and the track. A year later, he is wearing an Etixx – Quick-Step jersey. His two victories over Cavendish in Argentina last year inspired the Brit’s then-team to bring on the 21-year-old Colombian as a stagiare for late 2015 and as a full-time pro for 2016 and beyond.

The move appears to be working out so far. In 2015, Gaviria nabbed a stage victory at the Tour of Britain (just ahead of Lotto-Soudal’s André Greipel), and now he has his first win as a pro, ahead of Tinkoff’s Peter Sagan and Italian speedster Elia Viviani.

For the moment, Gaviria is downplaying his success so far.

“In order to be at the same level [as Cavendish and Sagan], I need to win the same things they won,” Gaviria said. “Sagan is the world champion. Cavendish was. He also has won Sanremo. They have won stages in the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. I need to keep collecting more victories.”

Be that as it may, it is already clear that Gaviria is an immense talent. However, he is not particularly interested in drawing comparisons in sprinting style with established stars like Cavendish, Greipel, and his new teammate Marcel Kittel — with perhaps one exception.

“I think that they are the same as me in that they all want to win,” he said. “Being a sprinter, you always want to win, you always want to be on form for all the races.”

For now, Gaviria has his sights set on the indoor events at the Rio Olympics this year. Gaviria is the world champion in the men’s omnium, and one of his biggest reasons for signing with Etixx was the team’s support for his 2016 track ambitions.

Although that goal may require more of his attention than his road objectives over the next few months, it seems inevitable that Gaviria’s fast finish will make him a favorite in bigger road races in the not-too-distant future. But that’s not something Gaviria seems particularly interested in considering, for now.

“I don’t like to think about the future. My future is now, what I’m living,” Gaviria said.

“I prefer to enjoy the moment.”