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Elia Viviani (Cannondale) picked up enough bonus seconds to take over the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice after overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni crashed out.
Italian aiming to wear points jersey into Nice
The team Cannondale sprinter was aiming for the win en route to yellow but instead played bridesmaid to a dominant Marcel Kittel - who won the stage. Viviani holds the race lead by a mere seven seconds over a seemingly hungry Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and while the ultimate goal is the points jersey, he’s not willing to give up yellow just yet.
"This morning I started with the ambition to take the stage and jersey [but could not]," Viviani told tuttobiciweb.it.
"I can just blame myself. I am happy with my performance so far. The sensations are good, I feel good and growing. Tomorrow I'll hold on to try to make a good sprint in the final.
This year’s race has already seen a marked improvement twelve months on from his last participation. In 2012, the best he could manage was fourth on Stage 6 while Viviani has already notched up results in the first few days. The 24-year-old begun seven-stage race with 11th in the prologue, third on Stage 2 before moving up into second in the third stage.
Viviani is yet to win a race this year but the Italian sprinter is reliable when it comes to securing victories throughout the season. The next stop following Paris-Nice will be the classics and while his finishing speed is amongst the best in the business, the stock of talent at Cannondale means the ‘Race to the Sun’ is a real chance for him to secure a protected role ahead of the one-day races.
"In view of the classics they are encouraging signs but now I want to focus only on the Paris-Nice. I will live for the day, aiming to bring the green jersey to Nice. I will run to score as much points as possible, both in the intermediate and final goal," he said.