Italian sprinter Elia Viviani will quit Team Sky on August 1 and transfer to UAE Team Emirates in order to ride the Vuelta a Espana and reboot his career, according to a report in today's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Viviani has agreed to a two-year contract with the UAE Emirates team and Team Sky has apparently agreed to let him leave mid-season. He is not part of Team Sky's Tour de France squad but will be in action from today at the Tour of Austria as part of an Italian national team. He is expected to have a key role in the Italian team for the European road race championships on August 2 and is unlikely to race in Team Sky colours again.
Viviani joined Team Sky in 2015 and won a stage at the Giro d'Italia. The British team backed his bid to target the Omnium event on the track at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Viviani paid them back by taking the gold medal. However he was bitterly disappointed to be left out of the Giro d'Italia squad and began to reflect on his future at the team. He was also left out of Team Sky's cobbled Classics squad and was only given a late call up for Paris-Roubaix but fought back to win a sprint stage at the Tour de Romandie in a show of pride.
Mid-season transfer are rare in professional cycling but are allowed under UCI rules. The two teams have to accept the transfer with final approval coming from the UCI.
Other transfers have seen Rohan Dennis leave Garmin for BMC in 2014, while Alessandro Petacchi retired in the spring of 2013 only to sign a new contract with Quick-Step in August when the mid-season transfer window opened.