Elia Viviani (Team Sky) described himself as being in the form of his life after claiming victory at Bretagne Classic – Ouest France in Plouay on Sunday. It was Viviani's fourth win in the space of eight days following his victories at the EuroEyes Cyclasssics Hamburg and two stages of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.
"Up to now, on the road, I'd never had a day of grace like this one," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport following his sprint win ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
Viviani drew a temporary line under his track career when he landed the gold medal in the omnium at the Rio 2016 Olympics a year ago, and the Italian vowed to try to replicate that level of success on the road. The Italian fell short in the spring and suffered the disappointment of missing selection for the Giro d'Italia, but has been one of the peloton's most consistent performers since early summer and has now won eight races in 2017.
"I've been thinking about this since last August, when I won gold in Rio. I was thinking about becoming an athlete capable of winning Classics on the road," Viviani said. "I was thinking precisely of the Viviani I've managed to be over these past eight days."
Ahead of Sunday's race, Viviani had insisted that Michal Kwiatkowski would be Sky's leader while Danny van Poppel would be the protected rider in the event of a sprint. Come the finale, however, the Italian was handed the duty of leading the team.
"After 140 kilometres, Danny told me he wasn't on a good day and 'Kwiato' gave me a free hand with 20 kilometres to go," Viviani said. "I felt the responsibility and I took some risks, including following some attacks on the climbs in the finale, like Ulissi's one."
In the eventual sprint finish, Viviani proved too quick for Kristoff, the very man who beat him into the silver medal at the European Championships road race in Herning at the beginning of August. "I wouldn't swap these eight days for the European title," Viviani said.
Viviani will now hope to force his way into Italian coach Davide Cassani's plans for the World Championships road race in Bergen next month, though his build-up to the event is complicated by the fact that he will not be part of Sky's six-man line-up for the Tour of Britain.
Viviani, who will leave Sky for Quick-Step Floors in 2018, is instead hoping to race the Coppa Agostoni, Coppa Bernocchi and Memorial Pantani in the colours of the Italian national team as he finetunes his form ahead of the Worlds.
"Plouay is a race of 240 kilometres. I beat Kristoff, I suffered less than [Michael] Matthews on the climbs, I dealt well with the hills," Viviani said. "If a small group came to the finish together at the Worlds and I was there… I'd like to have the chance to repeat this sprint [from Plouay]. I'm not Sagan, there isn't going to be a chance for me every year."