UAE Team Emirates' Valerio Conti finishes 12th on stage one of Giro d'Italia

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UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti achieved his best result of the season after finishing 12th on the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday.

The Rome native completed the 9.7km time trial in 12:31 – 29 seconds behind defending champion and stage winner Tom Dumoulin.

The 25-year-old said: “I liked the hilly course, I put the hammer down on the hills and I took the proper risks, however avoiding to risk too much.

“I happy with my performance, it’s a pity I missed the white jersey by a few seconds but there is loads of racing left to get the best out of myself.”

Meanwhile, team captain Fabio Aru – who was runner up in the 2015 edition – finishes 47th with a time of 12:52 and will be eyeing the mountain stages in the latter part of the tour to really make his mark.

The Sardinian native, who finished sixth at the Tour of the Alps two weeks ago, is relishing the prospect of challenging Dumoulin and Chris Froome when the race returns to Italy on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old said: “Dumoulin exploited one of the stages which suits him most, I did not risk too much because this morning, during the recon, I noticed that the course was complicated.

“I’m happy the Giro has started, there are 20 days ahead of us for trying to achieve something good. I’m looking forward to it all.”

“Conti’s performance today was impressive and he’ll be a precious help for me during the Giro”.

Best for UAE Team Emirates were: Diego Ulissi (23rd), Marco Marcato (28th), Jan Polanc (59th), Vegard Laengen (86th) and Darwin Atapuma (150th).

Saturday’s second stage will be a 167 km pan-flat course running from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

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Elia Viviani targets points classification jersey and dreams of overall victory at Giro d'Italia

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Elia Viviani is targeting the points classification’s cyclamen jersey as the 101st Giro d’Italia gets under way on Friday, but the Italian icon isn’t hiding the fact that the event’s famous pink jersey is his ultimate goal.

The first of the year’s three Grand Tour races began on Friday, with a short but tricky individual time trial in Jerusalem, the first time one of the three major races in cycling – the others being the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana – began outside Europe.

Viviani, 29, will be one of the riders to watch during the next three weeks, as the Italian returns to his beloved home race for the first time since 2016.

The Quick-Step Floors rider has enjoyed a fine start to the 2018 season, with six victories to his name – including winning the Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne title in early March as well as the Dubai Tour title in February.

He won the points classification at both the Dubai and at the Abu Dhabi Tours, and is targeting the cyclamen jersey – formerly the red jersey but changed back to cyclamen, named after the flower, for the 2017 edition.

“I have a good condition and I’m here to finish the Giro, but I know it won’t be easy, because it’s such a hard race,” said the Verona native.

“On the other hand, having a flat stage in Rome on the final day is a special motivation, so I’m going to do all that I can to get there.

“I’m happy that the team presented me with this opportunity and that I have such a strong squad around me. I want to repay their confidence and will give everything that I have for this.”

Elia Viviani celebrates winning Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour in February.

Elia Viviani celebrates winning Stage 2 of the Abu Dhabi Tour in February.

A stage winner in Genoa, back in 2016, Viviani has nevertheless not had the best of times at his home race, recording a best finish of 119th on his debut in 2013, while he failed to finish last time he appeared two years ago.

But he was hoping to start the opening weekend on the front foot ahead of the race heading to the homeland on Tuesday.

“My dream is to win the cyclamen jersey and a couple of stages, but we need to take it step by step,” added Viviani.

“Let’s see first how the first two stages, in Tel Aviv and Eilat will unfold, and afterwards we can start thinking of this.”

Being a sprint specialist could see Viviani getting his hands on the Giro’s famous Maglia Rosa jersey early on and even though the race gets more mountainous as it goes on, winning the overall title remains a dream.

“I won’t hide the fact that I think of it (winning), but I’m also aware that if I go full gas for the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, then I can lose some energy for the final sprint,” he said.

“Friday’s individual time trial will give us more answers. It’s a bit too long for my taste and it will be a hot day, but I’ll try to do my best.”

Quick-Step Floors team for the Giro d’Italia:

Eros Capecchi, Fabio Sabatini, Elia Viviani (all Italy); Remi Cavagna, Florian Senechal (France); Michael Morkov (Denmark); Maximilian Schachmann (Germany); Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic).

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Fabio Aru features in strong UAE Team Emirates contingent for Giro d'Italia

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Let the battle begin: Fabio Aru (second left)

UAE Team Emirates have announced a strong line-up that will be led by Fabio Aru for this weeks’ Giro d’Italia.

Aru, Italian national champion joins six-time stage winner Diego Ulissi, Valerio Conti, Marco Marcato and Manuele Mori along with Columbian climber Darwin Atapuma, Slovenia’s Jan Polanc and Norway’s Vegard Stake Laengen in the team for the first Grand Tour of the season. The race will take place between May 4 to 27.

General manager, Giuseppe Saronni said: Our Italian riders give this roster a strong local flavour which honours the Giro d’Italia and we have the national champion in the tri-colour jersey, Fabio Aru. Fabio is going to the Giro d’Italia with a huge desire to make an impactHe will be joined by a group of riders who share the same feeling and will be able to support him in every scenario.

“The three non-Italians – Atapuma, Laengen and Polanc have shown their love for this race and their ability to contribute enthusiastically to the team. These riders know about success in this race, with six stage wins by Ulissi, two by Polanc and three by Aru, who has been on the podium twice.”

For the first time in Grand Tour history, the race will start outside of Europe before it ends in Rome on May 27.

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