Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) has admitted that he was so angry about being stripped of his Giro d’Italiastage victory in Orbetello that he considered quitting the race in protest. However, he started Tuesday’s stage 4 to Frascati, saying he was racing with enough anger to smash his bike, determined to win the uphill finish near Rome.
The Italian national champion was first over the line in Orbetello after a fast and aggressive sprint but he was relegated to the back of the front group after UCI race commissaries ruled that he moved too far off his line and almost caused Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) to crash. The stage victory then went to Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), who initially finished second to Viviani in the sprint.
Viviani walked to the UCI VAR (Video Assist Referee) truck after the stage and watched the video replay of the sprint, trying to argue that he didn’t do anything wrong. The UCI commissaries did not agree and relegated him to last place (73rd) in the front peloton, fined him 500 Swiss Francs, penalised him 30 seconds in the overall classification and 50 points in the points classification.
"After the jury’s decision, I really thought about going home but it’s one of those thoughts that goes away almost as soon as you think of it. I’ve decided to stay but now I’m curious to see if other riders will be punished in the next sprints," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport late on Monday night.
"I think my anger is normal. I said straight after the finish that I’d felt the contact with Moschetti but the result wouldn't have changed. There were 75 metres to go, it was a sprint into a headwind, it’s obvious that when you go you look for the best line. I only thought about going. And when you go, you go. I explained to the judges that I didn’t want to impede anybody. It wasn’t a manoeuvre that merited a declassification. I’m upset about that."
Viviani was especially angry about being docked 50 points. He won the cyclamen-coloured points jersey in 2018 but is now racing with a 50-point handicap and may opt to quit the Giro d’Italia before the mountains and save himself for the Tour de France rather than fighting for the points jersey all the way to Verona.
"Part of my Giro is over because it’s virtually impossible to win the points jersey now," Viviani said on Tuesday morning before the start of stage 4 to Frascati. "I lost the 50 points for winning the stage and was penalized another 50 points. How can I get those points back?
"The maglia ciclamino is the only motivation for a sprinter to go all the way to Verona. The last sprint is the one in Santa Maria di Sala on stage 18 but I wanted to try to win the points jersey again. It hurts because I didn’t do anything wrong."
Viviani was keen to channel his anger for the uphill finish to Frascati.
"It’s a hard finish but with the anger and determination I have… After a defeat I always have more motivation. After this kind of disappointment, I feel like I could smash my bike."