• Elia Viviani in new colours for 2018. (Getty)Source: Getty
Elia Viviani is reimagining Marcel Kittel’s former sprint train as he works towards stage victories at the Tour Down Under.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
17 Jan 2018 - 8:43 AM 

The 28-year-old landed a readymade lead-out with his move to Quick-Step, who he is racing with for the first time in Adelaide.

Viviani has taken confidence from two fourth-place finishes here but similarly has seen a gap he will need to patch in a train drilled to cater for a pure over more versatile fast-man.

The former Giro d’Italia stage winner adopted a different tact in both the prelude criterium and Tuesday’s first stage– coming from behind in the criterium, and then hitting out first with about 200m remaining in the official race opener – to be in the mix but not on the mark.

Greipel makes it 17 at the Tour Down Under
Andre Greipel logged his 17th Santos Tour Down Under career stage win at the end of the 145-kilometre race opener to Lyndoch.

“I’m not like Kittel, he is faster than me, he has more power, so they need to change something for the lead-out,” said Viviani.

“Saba [Fabio Sabatini] is the guy who needs to change more for me, but you saw today he and [Michael] Morkov have a good feeling already.

“I think today they worked perfectly, it was just me, I don’t have the legs to go from 200m to first on the line. Maybe in another moment of the season I can, but at the moment someone is faster in the last 100m.”

Viviani broke contract with Sky, where he was more a lone ranger, to join Quick-Step Floors, which had an opening with Kittel moving to Katusha-Alpecin.

The German tried but didn’t succeed in taking chief pilot Sabatini, who opted to stay and ride for friend Viviani. 

“I’m not happy with fourth place but I’m really happy with the job we did as a team. It’s just the second sprint. Last year I waited until [the Tour of] Romandie to have a win so we are already closer,” Viviani said.

The Rio Olympic omnium gold medalist has tough competition at the Tour Down Under in Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and world champion Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).

However, he, like Sagan, is also a little hardier and may, outside the pure sprints, be able to vie for line honours in the punchier stages like the race to Stirling on Wednesday.  

“I finished top 10 as a first-year pro there so I want to try,” he said.

“It’s never easy because it depends on how they do the climb, the laps before, but I think we have to try. If I’m dropped, I’m dropped.

“For sure the day after [to Victor Harbor] is a good chance for me again.

“We want to win a stage.”