Elia Viviani will end his spring Classics campaign at Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen, hoping to sign-off with a final win after an emotional defeat at Gent-Wevelgem. The Italian sprinter will then take a break and begin to prepare for the Giro d'Italia, where he will be Quick-Step Floors' designated sprinter.
Viviani was understandably upset immediately after being beaten by Peter Sagan at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, a race that he targeted to win this spring. He had opted to follow Arnaud Démare in the sprint but was unable to close the gap on Sagan after the world champion jumped early on the opposite side of the road. Viviani sat in tears next to his bike as he came to terms with defeat. He was gutted to have missed out on a chance of victory in a spring Classic.
On Monday, Viviani compared his loss to that of the 2016 Track World Championships, when Mark Cavendish beat him in the final sprint of the Madison, resulting in Fernando Gaviria winning the Omnium world title.
"The day after, things feel a little better, but it was hugely disappointing," La Gazzetta dello Sport reported him as saying.
Viviani was not ashamed to show his emotions after Gent-Wevelgem, posting #itsnotruethemannevercry on his instagram account.
He also wrote: "Day [sic] like yesterday (Sunday), when you do all perfect, every main point you're there with the first, you have all the team around, they believe in you but...but you meet Peter Sagan on your road, with him 1” can be Win or Lose, every sprint have his story, I lose a big chance and I can't control the emotion just because is one of the race of my dream! Like always I come back for win more stronger next time. Thanks."
Post-race Viviani defended his show of emotion. "I'm not interested in what the people are thinking. It's just a natural emotion because the sadness is so high, because I think I can win, because the guys did an amazing job," he said at the Quick-Step Floors team bus.
Last year, Quick-Step Floors won Dwars door Vlaanderen thanks to a late attack from Yves Lampaert and have selected a mixed team to be ready for late attacks or a sprint finish.
Lampaert is back this year and will be joined by Viviani and neo-pro Alvaro Hodeg who won a stage at last week’s Volta a Catalunya.
Philippe Gilbert has opted to take a break and train at home in Monaco before Sunday's Tour of Flanders. However, Viviani will have the support of Iljo Keisse, Maximiliano Richeze, Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra. The E3 Harelbeke winner has won Dwars door Vlaanderen twice before, in 2012 and 2014.
This year's Dwars door Vlaanderen covers a new route across the Flemish countryside over a 181km route, which includes 12 climbs and three sectors of cobbles – the last of which comes just six kilometres from the finish in Waregem.