The Olympic Games men's Omnium provided some of the most exciting, unexpected, and brilliant moments of the year in track racing, so it is no surprise that the Cyclingnews readers voted gold medalist Elia Viviani as the Best Track Racer of 2016.
Viviani had a point to prove when it came to the Olympic Games omnium: in the World Championships earlier in the year, he had a 14-point lead coming into the final of the six events, but found himself heavily marked by Colombian Fernado Gaviria and, in the final sprint, was out-sprinted by Briton Mark Cavendish who was solidly sixth overall. As a result, Viviani missed out on the rainbow bands, ending up off the podium in fourth.
In the Olympic Games, Viviani had another solid run up to the Points Race, the final event, where each sprint counted towards the overall total. Leading by 16 points, the Italian kept his cool, marking the important moves and sprinting when it counted, but a mid-race touch of wheels between Mark Cavendish and Korean Park Sanghoon sent Viviani sprawling to the track.
"I saw that my bike was okay and so I took a lap to see how I felt," he said. "I remembered that I was leading the omnium and that I couldn't give up, so I suddenly had extra adrenaline. When I won the sprint with 20 laps to go, I knew they couldn't beat me and so I savoured the final 10 laps."
With his emotional outpouring of relief, gratitude and tears following his gold medal performance, Viviani won the hearts of the Cyclingnews readers, smashing Cavendish by more than 1000 votes. The women's Omnium gold medalist Laura Trott edged out husband and fellow gold medalist Jason Kenny for third.
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Best Track Racer of 2016 votes:
|3||Laura Kenny (née Trott)||2907|