Italy's surprising ride sets up team pursuit semi-final against Great Britain

Viviani and crew break 20-year Italian national record

Italy provided the shock of the day in the team pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships by breaking a 20-year national record and setting up a semi-final ride against Great Britain on Thursday.

Elia Viviani, Liam Bertazzo, Simone Consonni and Francesco Lamon were the third team off in the afternoon session but only Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand could better the Italians' time of 3:57.800. The previous record of 4:02.752 had been set by Mauro Trentini, Adler Capelli, Cristiano Citton and Andrea Collinelli in Manchester back in 1996, a memory not lost on National Technical Coach Davide Cassani and fellow professional rider Giovanni Lombardi, who both watched today’s effort from the Italian pits in centre of the track.

"I’m really happy for the young guys in the team because they’ve worked a lot in the last year,” Viviani told Cyclingnews after his warm-down.

“Maybe if we started another six months ago we could have gone to the Games with the team pursuit but we were here to take the Italian national record. It’s for 20 years that it stood and now we have a three second advantage.”

Cassani added that, “this isn’t a surprise. We have a really strong team, with six riders at a really top level. Tomorrow against Great Britain we’ll race for another good time,” he told Cyclingnews.

Vivani’s inclusion in the event was somewhat of a surprise with the Team Sky rider riding the Scratch race in the evening session on Day One and then competing in the two-day Ominum. However the Italian stressed that the Omnium remains his prime target during these championships and he has been clearly earmarked as one of he favourites alongside Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria and defending Olympic champion, Lasse Norman Hansen.

“The Omnium is the main focus and Hansen is another favourite. I’ve done three weeks on the track for this and I’m ready. I think these three [ed. Cavendish, Gaviria and Hansen] are three of the strongest riders in the world but Hansen after two years in WorldTour is focused on this and he was Olympic champion. I think he’s one of the strongest and there are probably five riders who can win,” Viviani told Cyclingnews.

Viviani admits that his form is not quite yet at its peak but this week’s championships will give a key reference point as it is the first time all of the main Omnium favourites have lined up against each other at the same time.

“The road gives you more stamina and for sure I will have more in August as I’ve only done San Luis and the Dubai Tour and it’s 10 days on the road. I never have the best condition in terms of stamina at the World Championships for that we work more but we know that at the Olympics it will be a different story.”

Great Britain’s selection of Mark Cavendish has taken much of the focus, especially with his national selectors suggesting that if the rider fails to finish on the podium then he may give up on his Olympic ambitions. When asked if eliminating Cavendish from the Games at this early stage was an incentive, Viviani ruled it out.

“No absolutely not. I’m racing the Omnium to win a world title or to win a medal like I did last year. This is the last test before the Games but this one for mark is a really stressful two days because if you see the schedule and you think you need to do something to get a selection then it’s really hard for the head. Two days in the Omnium is really stressful but it’s good for me if he’s here and at the Games. He’s a big rider because some riders will follow me and some will follow Mark.”

 

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