In his first stage race since the Giro d'Italia in May, Elia Viviani returned to the winners list on stage 1 of the Eneco Tour with a well timed effort to snatch victory ahead of Danny van Poppel (Trek) and Jempy Drucker (BMC) for his third win with Team Sky. Viviani had only ridden the Prudential RideLondon Classic and European Games road since claiming a maiden grand tour stage win in Genova but showed no sign of rustiness at the conclusion of the 183.5km stage finish in Bolsward.
A well drilled sprint train that kept Viviani calm and sheltered proved to be difference in contrast to Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who led out the sprint but faded to fourth in a similar manner to Genova when he was also pipped by the Italian.
"We preferred to stay at the front to stay out of all the crashes. In the final kilometre Andy Fenn took me and put me on the best wheel. When I saw Greipel's wheel I took that and I thought 'okay I'm in a good position'", Viviani explained of the finale.
"When he started to sprint he went very fast, and I thought, 'now I wait a second and then I go'. I think I did 200 metres of a sprint. I had good legs in the final today and after a long gap without races following the Giro this is the best way to start a new second part of the season."
Viviani added that his teammates were instrumental to making the victory as smooth as possible by sticking to the pre-stage plan.
"In the last 3km we had Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton and Andy Fenn. When they had finished their work Andy kept me at the left side," he said. "The plan is in the last kilometre to take the best wheel we can. We know Lotto have a big team for the lead-out train, the same for Lampre. So we knew one of these would be a good train and it turned out to be Lotto today."
The win means Viviani will wear the leader's jersey of the race for stage 2's 180km jaunt from Breda to Breda. It will be the third career stint in a leader's jersey at WorldTour race for Viviani after the 2012 Tour of Beijing and the 2013 edition of Paris-Nice.