Elia Viviani has named world champion Fernando Gaviria as the favourite for the Omnium at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but warned that Mark Cavendish will arrive in Brazil better prepared than he was for March’s World Championships in London.
Viviani placed fourth in London after leading into the final event, but complained afterwards that Cavendish, who took 6th, had sprinted against him in order to aid Gaviria in the final points race.
“I’d put Gaviria ahead of everybody,” Viviani told Gazzetta dello Sport of his rivals in Rio. “Then there’s [Glenn] O’Shea and Cavendish, who will be stronger than he was at the Worlds. He was really very strong at the Tour de France. He surprised me. Roger Kluge will be dangerous in the final points race. [Lasse Norman] Hansen is the outgoing champion. He’s hidden a bit but he shouldn’t be underestimated.”
At the London 2012 Olympics, Viviani slipped from first to sixth after a poor showing in the kilometre, but the Italian is adamant that he has improved in timed events over the past four years.
“If I’d prepared for the kilometre before London the same way I’ve prepared for it for Rio, I’d have won a medal. Back then, I was targeting the group events and less focused on the timed ones. This time, I think I’ve prepared for the Games without neglecting anything,” Viviani said.
“I watched those London Olympics back for the first time only a few weeks ago. Let’s say that the blow hasn’t been absorbed completely. I’ll only digest it if something special happens in Rio.”
Since finishing outside the time limit on stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia, Viviani’s training has been built entirely around preparing for the Rio Olympics. He raced at the Tour of Slovenia last month and then the recent Tour de Pologne, before winning the Six Days of Fiorenzuola on the track last weekend.
“It showed me that I’ve improved again in the flying lap and that I’m in a good place when it comes to the grouped events,” Viviani said. “But I’d already had some reassuring answers from the Tour de Pologne. If I hadn’t been closed in, I would have won the sprint where I was beaten by Gaviria. I struggled on the climbs but that’s normal.”
Viviani is currently training on the track at Montechiari, near Brescia, but sleeping at altitude, making a three-hour round trip from the Passo Maniva each day. “I sleep where it’s cooler and with the benefits of altitude, so that means recovering better,” he said.