Elia Viviani has described his decision to transfer from Team Sky to Quick-Step Floors as "a chance not to be missed", saying that the opportunity to ride for the Belgian team is "a train that only passes once".
Viviani had a contract with Team Sky for 2018 but the British WorldTour team agreed to let him go and join Quick-Step Floors, who have lost Marcel Kittel to Katusha-Alpecin.
The Italian sprinter had been linked to a transfer to UAE Team Emirates during the Tour de France but the move fell through and he told Cyclingnews at the RideLondon Surrey Classic that he would stay with the team. However, when the chance of moving to Quick-Step Floors materialized, he jumped at it.
"The talks happened quickly, in the last few days, when Kittel leaving Quick-Step Floors became clear. It seems destined to have happened, as they say: when one door closes another opens," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport about his move.
Viviani had been considering his options after being snubbed for a place in Team Sky's squad for the Giro d'Italia. He had expected a place as protected sprinter but Team Sky opted to dedicate their lineup to backing overall contenders Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa. Despite the problems, Viviani thanked Team Sky for their support during the last three seasons. Viviani has won 14 races in Team Sky colours and took the gold medal in the Omnium on the track at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"I have high hopes and my ambitions no-longer matched up with the programme of the team," Viviani explained.
"But I can only thank Sky for what we did together, for how they let me prepare for the Olympics last year and for giving me permission to change team now."
Kittel has hinted that a lack of guarantees about his place in the Quick-Step Floors 2018 Tour de France squad was one of the reasons he decided to leave and join Katusha-Alpecin. Viviani is happy to let Gaviria take the sprinter's role at the Tour de France, so he can focus on the sprints at the Giro d'Italia.
"Quick-Step Floors have always worked well with sprinters, they had Boonen, Cavendish and then Kittel. They wanted another sprinter as well as Gaviria, who perhaps wants to ride the Tour, so that means I can aim at the Giro d'Italia. I really mean 'aim' because I'd have two riders to help me," he said.
One of those helpers could be experienced lead-out man Fabio Sabatini. He has worked well with Kittel in the last two years but opted to stay at Quick-Step Floors and join forces with Viviani. They were teammates and recently rode together in the Italian team at the European road race championships, where Viviani was just beaten by Alexander Kristoff.