Jhonatan Narváez - not your typical South American rider

Mathieu van der Poel got all the applause for making the race today but this little Ecuadorian followed him from the initial attack with 84 kms to go until they were caught a little more than one kilometre before the line.

And it's his first taste of the cobbled classics (well, apart from Omloop yesterday) where he was in the first bunch so a more than impressive debut there. He has ridden a few races in Belgium, though, most notably the Tour de Wallonie where he was riding impressively last year, albeit without anything to show for himself in the results.

It's not the first time he does well in this weekend, however. Three years ago, he was 6th in Ardèche and 2nd in the Drôme classic which were his first two professional one-day race participations ever.

Last year, he won the Coppi e Bartali stage race and - his biggest victory - a stage in the Giro, where he was a little lucky that Mark Padun got a mechanical but based on this year's showings (let's not forget that he was Michael Woods' primary opponent on the Mur de Fayence) I guess he would have smoked the Ukrainian in the sprint. With that win he also created the astounding stat that every Ecuadorian in the history of the World Tour has won at least one stage in the Giro (which is remarkable given that there have been (there are) three riders, and until 2018, no Ecuadorian had ever won a Grand Tour stage).

I guess logic dictates that he will be considered too small for the cobbled classics but going with Mathieu over the Kwaremont today can't have been a picnic and he has a younger and smaller teammate who seems to be headed in that very direction.

My only fear is that he will establish himself so much so that I have to hear Brian Holm's absolutely bizarre way of pronouncing his name more often than what can be considered healthy - it's something to the effect of "Narvich" as if he was from Balkan or something...
 
I always thought his program with Sky/Ineos looked odd considering his great rookie year with Steppers. The talent for classics and punchy/hard races was there from the start, regardless of height and weight.
 

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