Elia Viviani is hoping Sunday’s elite men’s World Championship road race ends in a sprint, and is convinced he can take on big rivals John Degenkolb, Andre Greipel and Alexander Kristoff and give Italy yet another world title.
The Team Sky sprinter crashed hard while training for the team time trial event on Saturday but insists he is recovering quickly and is on form for the 260km race. He recently won three stages at the Tour of Britain and secured a place in Italy’s nine-rider squad.
“Both (Italian national coach) Davide Cassani and my Team Sky coach Rod Ellingworth have said the course suits me even if the three short climbs in the final five kilometres of each lap need short and intense efforts to get over them,” Viviani explained to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“My endurance is not a problem and so I only needed to work on handling the intense efforts to ensure I’m up there in an eventual sprint finish. Since the Eneco Tour I’ve added a special training ride in my programme that includes several five-minute intense efforts on the Torricelle climb that was on the World Championship course in Verona. My average power was about 460-480 watts.
“I’ve also done some sprint training behind the scooter with my dad: 300m sprints with me going up against the scooter and coming off his wheel. I’ve also done some double sprints in 600m to have two peaks of power. I feel ready.”
A leading role in the Squadra Azzurra
Viviani will join up with the rest of the Italian team today when they arrive in Richmond after a stopover in New York. He will talk to Cassani and fellow sprinters Giacomo Nizzolo, Matteo Trentin about tactics and leadership but seems confident he can secure a key role in the Squadra Azzurra.
“My performance at the Tour of Britain boosted my confidence and hopes,” Viviani explained. “I won two stages with double the climbing of Richmond (1600m) and another that was 230km long. I’m on form and ready to take responsibility in the team. Italy has a really strong team and there’s a good atmosphere. We’ve got me, Nibali, Trentin, Ulissi. No other nation has so many quality alternatives.”
Ulissi and Nibali are likely to join any late attacks, with Viviani the protected sprinter if the race comes back together on the final lap.
“At Team Sky we talk about check-points in races. For me it’ll be with three laps to go, with 50km to go. We shouldn’t tire ourselves before that –it’s hard to make a selection on the circuit before then, but at the same time we can’t let the race get out of control,” he explained.
“Nibali is perfect for closing down a late attack, while the best riders to lead me out are Bennati, Oss and Trentin – who has led out Cavendish in the past and is on form. The key point is the central 200m of the last climb at 8%. We rode it in the team time trial. I’ve got to sprint to hold my place, while one or two teammates control possible attacks by people like Gilbert and Kwiatkowski. Then after catching a breath, it’s time for the sprint, with the final 150m slightly downhill.”
The Italian team will clash with their traditionally strong rivals Germany, Belgium, Spain and France. However Viviani will be keeping on another sprint rival.
“The most dangerous rival in a sprint? I’d say Michael Matthews,” he pointed out. “After 260km of racing he can produce the same speed and sprint as after 200km.”
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