The Colombian will race as a fully fledged pro for the first time since emerging with two stage wins at the Argentinian race in 2015

Colombian sprinting prodigy Fernando Gaviria will return to the race which saw him emerge from nowhere in 2015, leading Etixx – Quick-Step at this year’s edition of the Tour de San Luis.

>>> Tour de San Luis 2016 preview

Gaviria, who took two stages last year in the Argentinian stage race, beating seasoned sprinters like Mark Cavendish, will be looking to add to his stage win tally in his first season as a fully fledged professional rider.

The 21-year-old was immediately signed by Belgian WorldTour team Etixx after his performance at the race last year, and later raced alongside Cavendish at the Tour of Britain, taking victory on stage four into Blyth.

Gaviria will co-lead the team at San Luis alongside climber Rodrigo Contreras, his fellow Colombian who was also signed as a stagiaire by Etixx last year.

Davide Bramati, who will direct the team at the nine-day stage race, says the team are confident in Gaviria’s chances in taking a stage victory in the early season race.

“Our goal is to take a stage victory and we are confident that Fernando can do it,” Bramati said.

“On the flat, he will rely on a strong team, which includes Richeze, Vandenbergh, Sabatini and Wisniowski, all strong cyclists, ready to work for the team.

“For the mountains, we count on Rodrigo, but without putting any pressure on him. We want to take it day by day, see how he feels, and if the signs are good, then maybe he’ll try to do a good GC.”

Although Gaviria will begin his year on the road, much of his focus will be on the Rio Olympics in August, where he’ll potentially come up against Cavendish again, this time on the track as he looks to add a gold medal to his 2015 World Championship win in the Omnium.

Etixx – Quick-Step for the Tour de San Luis (18-24 January):

Rodrigo Contreras
Fernando Gaviria
Maximiliano Richeze
Fabio Sabatini
Stijn Vandenbergh
Lukasz Wisniowski