The 27-year-old Italian memorably broke down in tears in Rio as he beat Britain’s Mark Cavendish to claim omnium gold in Brazil – four years after finishing a disappointing sixth in London.
Having won two stages of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour a year ago, there were not too many highlights on the road though in 2016 – one second place on Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia and a stage win on the Dubai Tour in February were interspersed with unfamiliar finishes of 120th, 162nd, 104th and 117th throughout the year.
Despite his disappointment on the road, Viviani takes great solace in being able to call himself an Olympic champion.
“I know I did a lot of sacrifices for the track but when you do this and win the gold medal it’s all worth it,” said the Team Sky rider at the Abu Dhabi Tour’s riders’ press conference on Wednesday.
“I followed my dream to win the gold medal and it was a big chance on the track, the omnium. I lose in 2012 in London but I followed this dream for four years, I waited four years and now I’ve won it I think about what else I want.
“I can stop track activity now for two years maybe. The omnium was really stressful to do and to prepare for. I will prepare all winter now for the road and I have a big goal for next year on the road.
“When I decided to re-sign with Team Sky for the next two years we spoke about that. I want to come back and win the Giro d’Italia because I was really disappointed this year in that event. For sure for the next two years you will see me more on the road than the track.”
Viviani’s 20th place at the World Championships in Doha last week was something of a return to form and has warned his rivals he will be back to his best on the road in 2017.
“I really want to win again on the road, because it’s been a long time since I won on the road,” said the Isola della Scala native.
“For the preparations for the Olympics I lost a lot of time on the road. I never had a good shape on the road this year.
“I’ve been feeling really good in the last month since the Olympics and prepared well for the World Championships.
“I would have preferred that the World Championships were not in the same year as the Olympics but I can’t change that. I will prepare for the Worlds next year in Norway the best way possible.”
The cycling season may well be winding down, but Viviani insists that does not mean he will be taking it easy in the Emirates as the Tour get underway with the ADNOC stage today.
Viviani has fond memories of Abu Dhabi, having won Stage 2 and 4 of the inaugural event last year, and he wants more glory in order to end the season on a high.
“It’s the second time I’m coming here and I have very good memories after two stage wins last year,” he added.
“I remember my Abu Dhabi experience very well so I’m ready for the next race. Maybe I lose the World Championship a few days ago, I couldn’t do the sprint but I am feeling really good and I’m ready to try and win the same stages as last year and maybe better.
“We have a strong team for the sprint. We have a good leadout and I hope they put me in the best position. I also hope I have the legs for the sprint because it’s more difficult than last year. Last year I was in front of Peter Sagan but now (Mark) Cavendish is here, (Andre) Greipel is here so it’s more difficult, but I feel I am in good shape to win another stage in Abu Dhabi.”
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