When Elia Viviani (Team Sky) took victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Britain he wasn’t even sure that he had done it. Second time around, he had plenty of time to celebrate as he took a convincing win over Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar).
Viviani has already demonstrated his bike handling skills on stage one when he slipped up the inside of Mark Cavendish to nick the win. He did the same again in the tricky finish through Kelso and he appears to be thriving on the mental test that the Tour of Britain finishes have provided so far.
“Today is more a tactical sprint than the first day because you need to understand when to go and don’t think one second more because you lose. I think this tactical sprint is my favourite,” said Viviani. “I prefer this and maybe the distance helped me today. Sure you need a really strong team to stay in front and get a good position in a technical finish and we have a good team. Andy Fenn led me out in a perfect position and Pete Kennaugh and Ian Stannard did a really good job.
It wasn’t a straightforward day for the bunch with the six-man breakaway working well together and taking a lead of over six minutes. There are no race radios at the Tour of Britain and the size of the teams makes it hard to control the race, and Team Sky thought perhaps they’d left it too late. They had to go all out to bring them back, a tactic that could have seen Viviani sent packing from the main peloton.
“When we saw 4:20 we thought we needed to go really fast on the last climb and we didn’t know if I would be able to hold on to the front group in the last climb,” explained Viviani. “When you have your teammates working on the front you do everything to stay in the front group for the sprint. When I saw Cavendish wasn’t in our group and then I saw Greipel working for Debusschere I thought it was a good sprint for me and I could take this stage.
“I think it’s a good test for the Worlds. This climb fill gas with 20 to go is a really good signal for me.”
Viviani is visibly brimming with confidence after his second win and he’s on the lookout to add to that tally. After showing that he’s able to hack it on the climbs, at speed, he believes that tomorrow’s offering of a second category and two third category climbs before a pan-flat finish we could see him raising his arms on the line sooner rather than later.
“I think we always try to win every stage for a sprint. I am in really strong condition and I am happy for this. The team supported me with really good work. Tomorrow is another stage and I can win again so we are focussed for this.”
Stage four takes the riders from Edinburgh to Blyth and is the last chance for the sprinters before the summit finish on Hartside Fell.