Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) faded to fourth on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under but stressed that while he and his lead-out train need to adapt their tactics, there was still plenty of positives to be drawn from the first sprints of the 2018 season.
The Italian had arguably the most organised lead-out on stage 1 but was out-powered to the line by stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and a fast finishing Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Still, this was Viviani’s first WorldTour race with Quick-Step Floors after switching from Team Sky in the winter.
For Viviani, he and his team need to alter their leadout - primarily when and where his teammates drop him off before the true sprint begins.
“We did a really good job today and there was much more feeling with the team, Morkov and Sabatini put me in a really good position,” he said at the finish.
“One Bora guy came between me and Sabatini on the last corner but I didn’t really worry about that because I know the road is so big and Sabatini knows I want to go on the left side. Finally, I see the 200m to go sign and I say OK I go but it looks like if you start the sprint first here you don’t win in these two sprints. Maybe I don’t have the legs to do 200m in the front, I had a battle with Ewan until 50m to go, but then Greipel and Sagan came on the line.”
“I’m not happy with fourth place but really happy with the job we do as a team, and it’s just the second sprint. Last year, I waited until Tour de Romandie for a win, but we are already close.”
Tweaking the leadout train
While Quick-Step Floors were a dominant force in the leadout, Viviani noticed that the team is still basing their train on the Marcel Kittel blueprint. The German is a different sprinter to his Italian replacement and adjustments, according to Viviani, are needed.
“I'm happy with the team but for sure something needs to change because I’m not like Kittel, for sure he is faster than me, He has more power so we need to change something with the leadout,” he said.
“Saba is the guy who needs to change more for me. You see today Morkov and Saba already have a good feeling for only the second stage we do together and today they did a perfect lead-out, but I don’t have the legs for 200m and to then get to the line first, but maybe later in the season, I can do.
“At the moment someone is faster in the last 100 metres. I am happy with the condition at the moment, for sure we try again and we want to win a stage.”