Fernando Gaviria, who made headlines during the 2018 Tour de France for his two emphatic stage wins, will pull on the UAE Team Emirates jersey for the first time this Sunday as he gets his 2019 season under way at the Vuelta a San Juan.
The rising Columbian sprint superstar will be supported by an Italian quartet of riders including Simone Consonni, Valerio Conti, Oliveiro Troia and the highly experienced Roberto Ferrari in Argentina. The six-man team will be completed by another new signing, the promising young Swiss talent Tom Bohli.
The seven stage race begins on Sunday with a 159.1km out-and-back route from San Juan to Pocito. The flat stage only features two small climbs – over the Alto de las Vacas – and culminates with a slightly downhill run in to the finish line, perfectly setting the scene for an exciting bunch sprint on the first day of racing.
Gaviria said: “I return to Argentina and San Juan with gusto. I have great memories with my victories, although last year I had to quit after falling.
“In 2019, I hope to match the successes of the two previous years. It will also be my debut with UAE Team Emirates and it is obvious that I would like to start on the right foot and with the hope that it will be a great season for me and my new team.”
Stage 2 from Chimbas to Punta Negra will be a test for the legs. The 160.2km route takes the peloton up and over the 960m high Alto Punta Negra four times during the day, before ascending the Peri Lago Punta Negra climb for a gruelling summit finish 1,000m above sea level.
Stage 3 is one for the specialists, a short and straight 12km Individual Time Trial (ITT) over a pan flat course in the town of Pocito.
Stage 4 features the first big mountain of the tour, halfway along the 185.8km route from San Jose Jachal to Valle Fertill. The peloton will ascend one category three and two category one climbs as they make their way to the summit 1,510m above sea level.
The remainder of the race is a downhill charge to the line – with over 80km of near-constant descending.
Stage 5 features another summit finish atop the iconic Alto Colorado, standing 2,565m above sea level. Before the peloton reaches its destination it will have to ascend one category three and two category two climbs on a punishing route that involves well over 2,200m of climbing.
Stage 6 will be a welcome sight for the sprinters after two days in the mountains. The 153.5km route is all but flat, starting and finishing in the Autodromo Villicum where the fast men will battle for the sprint points title.
The peloton returns to San Juan for the seventh and final stage; a nine lap, 141.3km criterium in the centre of town that will provide fans with an exciting and action packed spectacle to end the tour.
The team will be guided through the Vuelta a San Juan by Swiss sports director Simone Pedrazzini.
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