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.”
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).
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 impact. He 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.
Defending champion Alexander Kristoff claimed his fourth straight Eschborn-Frankfurt title on Tuesday.
The Norwegian rider outsprinted Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) in the final metres of the 211.8 kilometre race around Frankfurt, with Olivier Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) snatching the third spot on the podium.
But for the reigning European champion, who owns two stages from the Tour de France as well as titles from Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, said the 57th edition of the race previously known as the Frankfurt GP was one to remember.
“This edition had more climbing than normal and I knew it’d be harder. In the second loop, I didn’t feel so strong and I was about dropped, but thanks to Troia and Ganna, I was able to hang in there,” he said.
“In the last two laps on the traditional circuit, my feelings changed and I began to believe in the win.
“The team worked very well from the start and in the final with Team Quick-Step to bring in the escapees.
“In the sprint, the Belgian team took control of the situation until Gaviria made a mistake on the last curve, which certainly helped things.”
The 30-year-old has now won the Eschborn-Frankfurt a record four times having done so in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The 2015 edition of the race was cancelled the day before it was due to take place following a reported terrorist threat.
Best for UAE Team Emirates in this edition were: Alexandr Riabushenko (24th), Simone Consonni (42nd), Sven Erik Bystrøm (49th) and Roberto Ferrari (61st).