Who will Quick-Step back for Milan-Sanremo: Elia Viviani or Fernando Gaviria?

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Italian sprinter Elia Viviani is clear when he talks about the biggest dreams he hopes to fulfil in his sport.

“Milan-Sanremo is the biggest goal after the Olympics for me in my career,” he told Sport360 last week prior to the Dubai Tour.

Milan-Sanremo, dubbed ‘La Classicissima’, is one of the most prestigious Classics in the history of cycling.

With a distance of 298km, from Milan to Sanremo in north-west Italy, it is the longest professional one-day race in modern cycling and Viviani is one of countless riders who dream of conquering it.

This year’s Milan-Sanremo, the first of five ‘Monuments’ (the five oldest, longest and most prestigious one-day races in professional cycling) contested each season, is scheduled for March 17 and Viviani has set his heart on winning it.

Considered a sprinter’s Classic due to its mostly flat nature, Milan-Sanremo offers a great opportunity for Viviani to shine, especially now that he has joined Quick-Step Floors – a team renowned for prioritising its sprinters, and one who has delivered plenty of wins for the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel in the past.

But Viviani isn’t the only Quick-Step rider who wants to win La Classicissima. His Colombian team-mate Fernando Gaviria, whom Viviani once described as a “phenomenon”, is also gunning for it.

And as Viviani was winning a stage and leading the Dubai Tour in the UAE, Gaviria was dominating in Colombia Oro y Paz, showing great form ahead of next month’s Monument.

Quick-Step had two riders finish in the top-five in Milan-Sanremo last year, with Julian Alaphilippe completing in the podium in third, and Gaviria placing fifth. Viviani, who was with Team Sky, finished ninth.

Alaphilippe made the Milan-Sanremo podium last year.

Alaphilippe made the Milan-Sanremo podium last year.

The question of who Quick-Step will back for this year’s edition is one that will probably be answered by the road.

Viviani can find himself fighting against his own team-mates in Sanremo and he is vague in his response when asked if he has already talked to Gaviria about possible scenarios, or if he has an idea who Quick-Step will favour next month.

“I hope we finish first, second and third, and fourth also,” Viviani says with a laugh, while speaking to reporters in Dubai.

“We have a strong team so it’s difficult also for the directeur sportif to do the team because we are one guy less, seven guys, not eight anymore, and we need also some helpers. I think Milan-Sanremo is one of the really strange races of the season because it’s for everyone, but not really for everyone.

“There are a lot of finish lines before the real finish lines in Via Roma and always something can happen.

“The reality is that three of us finished in the top-10 last year and Fernando came close to winning Milan-Sanremo the first year he did it.”

It is unclear whether discussions have already taken place within Team Quick-Step regarding the matter but Viviani remains diplomatic in his views.

“I think we’re a really strong team and the most important thing is to win Milan-Sanremo. So tactically we can speak maybe the week before but as you can imagine, Alaphilippe and Philippe [Gilbert] can attack and it’s all about the sprint on me and Gaviria.

“If I pull for him he wins Milan-Sanremo, if he pulls for me I win Milan-Sanremo, so maybe one year me and one year him.

“I think the problem is to arrive there in Via Roma all together and then we start thinking who can win Milan-Sanremo.”

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