Viviani: 'Kristoff was the man to beat and he beat me'

Italian disappointed after close second in European Championships

Elia Viviani gesticulated his protest against Alexander Kristoff's sprinting tactics in perfect Italian style at the UEC Road European Championship elite men's race, using his hand to ask if the Norwegian's tactics were correct and then wagging his finger to show his disapproval.

However, after the race officials watch several replays of the sprint and declared Kristoff the winner, Viviani could only climb on the podium, sportingly accept defeat and collect the silver medal for second place.

"I'm really disappointed to lose the European championship by less than the width of a tubular," Viviani said, praising his Italian teammates for the hard work they did to set him up and regretting his decision to stay along the barriers so close to Kristoff.

"The guys did a perfect job, they did as we planned," he said. "Two or three guys closed the gap (after the split) in one lap and a half, we stayed together and we had really good legs today."

"The sprint was fast, and [Fabio] Sabatini did be a good job to give me the space on the right. When I saw they came around, I went for it. Initially, I thought there was enough space to go on the right, and I couldn't change my choice. I touched (Kristoff) with 50 metres to go but it was too late. It was really close…"

Viviani has taken a number of second places this season but was the designated team leader for Italy for the European Championships. Team Sky opted not to select him for the Giro d'Italia and so Viviani used some summer Six Days on the track in Italy and the Tour of Austria to find his form.

"This race was a big goal for my second part of the season and I saw last week at RideLondon that Kristoff was in good condition and looking strong. Kristoff was the man to beat and he beat me," Viviani admitted.

"We were really close (to victory) and I'm sorry to all my team as they did a really good job."

Viviani was reported close to leaving Team Sky for UAE Team Emirates following his Giro d'Italia snub. However, he told Cyclingnews last week that he has agreed to stay with the British Super team.

"I'm happy at Team Sky. Absolutely, I was disappointed to miss the Grand Tours and the Giro, we all know that, but I really hope to do those races next season," he told Cyclingnews.

Like some of his rivals in the European Road Race Championships, Viviani is due to ride the BinckBank Tour that starts in the Netherlands on Monday. He missed the official team presentation on Sunday evening but is expected to line up in Breda for the opening stage to Venray. He has some serious goals for the final part of the 2017 season.

"I have four wins so far this year, and I want to finish on 10. I know that's a big goal, but there's a good chance with the races I have on my programme," he told Cyclingnews.

"We're going to try and keep this group together with Doull, Dibben and the rest. They're a good bunch of guys to lead me out. I want to end my season like I did in 2015. I had five wins there in the last month, and I'd like the same this year."

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