• Elia Viviani early this season (Getty)Source: Getty
Elia Viviani will round-out Sky’s dynamic approach toward the Giro d’Italia this season with the sprinter set to gun for stage wins at his home Grand Tour.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
18 Feb 2017 - 9:24 AM 

Viviani’s ambition has been less publicised than that of teammates Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, who both have overall objectives at the race powerhouse Sky is yet to conquer. 

The combination invites scepticism given Grand Tour teams are now highly specialised, Sky an embodiment of that approach at the Tour de France where it races only for Chris Froome.

Its strategy for the 100th edition of the Giro is a demarcation with two co-captains, let alone two co-captains and a sprinter.

“There is always that challenge,” Sky performance manager Rod Ellingworth said. “I go back to 2012, we won the Tour [with Bradley Wiggins] and Cav [Mark Cavendish] won three stages that year. I think they can do it.

“Elia knows the position of the team; that’s been clear from the outset and nobody is hiding the fact that it will be leant towards the GC. The lads will do a good job to try and get Elia in the right position [in sprint finishes].

"If you’re going for the GC, on the sprint days you’re still in good position, the objective is still to keep your GC guys out of trouble.”

The reference to the 2012 Tour is fair, but it was after that race Cavendish, albeit accustomed to being outright team leader, bemoaned his then ‘lowest’ result and the number of riders that were solely assigned to his cause.

Sky is yet to determine its full squad for the Giro and how many riders, if any, will be consigned to work especially for the developing Viviani, who won a stage of the race in his first year with the outfit in 2015.

“We’ve got to let the team form,” Ellingworth said. “There are a few new guys who we need to see racing first before we make any decisions.”

Viviani is acutely focused on the road after dividing his attention between it and the track last season, in which he won gold in the omnium at the Rio Olympic Games. The Italian demonstrated his eagerness in January, seeking special dispensation from Sky to compete at the Vuelta a San Juan, which he then left early to race the Dubai Tour.
Ellingworth coaches Viviani and was in Dubai to support the 28-year-old, who has large aspirations Sky has recognised.

“I enjoy working with Elia, he’s super passionate,” Ellingworth said. “Last year the Olympics was his main goal. Team Sky said from the beginning they’d support him in that quest to try and win Olympic gold and he did it, so that’s good.

“The whole time his focus was always, ‘as soon as that’s done I’m onto the next thing’. He’d love one day to win Milan-San Remo … the Worlds one year, races like that,” Ellingworth continued.

“He wants to win at the Giro this year as well, so he’s got some pretty big goals for himself there.”

Viviani supported Ben Swift to second place at Milan-San Remo in 2016 in what was his career third start at the race he placed 108th at in 2012 and 2013, and 84th in last year. He may have more of a chance to find a rhythm at the Monument this season with Swift now at UAE Abu Dhabi.

“San Remo is an open race where I think you’ve got to try and go in with a couple of options, but certainly we’re going to give him good support,” Ellingworth said.