Couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift: Viviani

The Olympic champion was unbreakable and turned it on in the final few metres

Elia Viviani said that he couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift after the Italian won the Ras Al Khaimah Stage, the second Stage of the Dubai Tour, on Wednesday.

The Quick-Step Floors rider celebrated turning 29 with a nicely timed sprint at the end to win the 190km Stage in Ras Al Khaimah.

The Olympic champion was unbreakable and turned it on in the final few metres in what was a blistering sprint to take the spoils ahead of race leader Dylan Groenewegen of Team Lotto NL-Jumbo and Astana Pro Team’s Ricciardo Minali.

Team Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish tried to challenge Viviani but the Italian was unruffled after which the Englishman’s push petered out. Cavendish went on to finish fourth.

It was Viviani’s second Stage victory of the season after he had won Stage three of the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia.

The Stage win meant Viviani is second in the General Classification behind Groenewegen.

The transition has been seamless after Viviani made the switch from Team Sky to Quick-Step Floors and was clearly enjoying his new role as the leader of the team.

“This is the best cycling birthday present I’ve ever had,” Viviani said after the Stage on Wednesday.

“My motivation came also from losing yesterday (Tuesday) which increased my desire. I felt sorry for my teammates yesterday (Tuesday) because the loss was my fault. I made a wrong choice. Overnight we felt like we missed one chance that would never be given back. But the loss was also good for my head,” he added.

Viviani, who had successive Stage wins in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Dubai Tour, said that his lead out man Fabio Sabatini had set him up at the right place for the sprint.

“I feel I’m in good condition and have the legs for winning. I had a mechanical (rear tyre puncture) but luckily it was with 20km to go and I had time to come back. With 500 metres to go, my lead out man Fabio Sabatini closed the gap. I chose (Alexander) Kristoff’s wheel. I saw (Dylan) Groenewegen coming back with 50 metres to go, but finally the line was in the right place for me to win. I’m pretty happy,” said Viviani.

Viviani said that he was in a good space at the moment with his new team and thanked his new teammates for all the hard work.

“I can enjoy the lead out I get at Quick-Step. I feel that I’m in the best three years of my career. I’m not a phenomenon. I have to work to challenge the best sprinters. I have no excuse anymore,” he said.

“The feeling with the team is super. Nine times out of ten they deliver me in perfect position. Before, I had to jump from wheel to wheel. It’s the best start of a season I’ve ever had although I’m two kilograms overweight compared to my best form. I still have some work to do before the big classics, including Milano-Sanremo but I feel great,” added Viviani.

Credits : khaleejtimes.com

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