Rather than bide his time for a possible bunch sprint, the Italian was part of a three-man move that went clear on the penultimate lap and decided the medals. Viviani then out-sprinted his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Yves Lampaert (Belgium) after Pascal Ackermann (Germany) was distanced just before the finish.
Monday’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport compared Viviani's breakaway victory to Mario Cipollini's triumph in similar circumstances at Gent-Wevelgem in 2002. That same year, Cipollini went to on to win the rainbow jersey in a bunch finish in Zolder, but, barring a late change of heart, Viviani has ruled himself out of Davide Cassani's squadra azzurra and will not be on the startline in Yorkshire on September 29.
"That’s a different story. The leader of the Italian team will be [Matteo] Trentin and I’m not Superman. It’s sort of, 'I'd like to, but I can't,'" Viviani told La Gazzetta. "It would be stupid to think that I could get there physically in top condition."
Viviani realised the Yorkshire World Championships course would be too hard for him during a reconnaissance ride in April. He has already raced for 72 days in 2019, including the Tour Down Under, 11 stages of the Giro d'Italia and all the Tour de France.
The only two road races left on Viviani's 2019 schedule are the EuroEyes Cyclassics in Hamburg on August 25 and the Bretagne Classic in Plouay a week later. He is then scheduled to ride the European Track Championships in Apeldoorn in October and the World Cup in Minsk a month later as he turns his attention to defending the OIympic omnium title that he won at the Rio 2016 Games.
"I'll try to keep going until Hamburg and Plouay, which I can win again," Viviani said. "Then in October and November, I have the European Track Championships and the first round of the World Cup in preparation for Tokyo 2020."
Viviani's European title in Alkmaar comes a week after his victory at the RideLondon Classic and two weeks after completing the Tour de France, where he also claimed a stage win. The Italian also recently confirmed that he will leave Deceuninck-QuickStep for Cofidis at the end of this season, with Fabio Sabatini also making the move to the French team.
Outgoing European champion Matteo Trentin played an important role in Viviani's triumph, serving as the regista, or road captain, of the Italian team. The azzurri had four riders in a front group of 14 with 65km to go, before Viviani tracked his trade teammate Lampaert's acceleration on the penultimate lap.
"Matteo was our road captain. Around 65km from the finish, we said to ourselves that we couldn’t keep dragging the peloton along, so [Davide] Ballerini opened things up. It was a risky move, but we had seen from our power meters that the watts were already very high. That meant a lot of guys were on the limit," Viviani explained.
"Then the three-man move went away coming out of a corner. Was I afraid of expending too much energy? No, because I felt I was on a great day. A state of grace."