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Elia Viviani hails best ever Italian track team after 10-medal haul in Roubaix

Elia Viviani flies the flag for Italy at the 2021 track world championships
Elia Viviani flies the flag for Italy at the 2021 track world championships (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Elia Viviani won his first track world title in the Elimination race on Sunday, as Italy won 10 medals and celebrated their best-ever World Championships on the Roubaix velodrome. 

Viviani is the only rider over 30 in the Italian track team and his success over the years, especially in the Omnium at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, has helped create a successful Italian track programme by inspiring a new generation of riders that includes Filippo Ganna, Elisa Balsamo, Letizia Paternoster and, more recently, Jonathan Milan and Martina Fidanza.

Fidanza started Italy’s medal haul by winning the women’s scratch race world title on the opening day of the 2021 Track World Championships. Viviani took a fourth world title for Italy on Sunday afternoon along with the men’s team pursuit squad, while Paternoster won the women’s Elimination race on Thursday.

The women’s team pursuit squad won silver, Milan won silver in the men’s individual pursuit, and Simone Consonni and Michele Scartezzini won silver in the men’s Madison. Ganna won a bronze medal in the individual pursuit after a blackout during his qualification ride, while Viviani and Balsamo both won bronze in the Omnium.

12 of the 17 riders in the Italian team won a medal, with the sprint disciplines again Italy’s weak point. The only bad news from the Roubaix Worlds was the theft of a number of track bikes, including the gold-painted men’s team pursuit bikes.  

Combined with Italy’s success in the European track and road championships and the road Worlds in Belgium, the Azzurri have won a total of 11 titles, taken six silver medals and five bronze medals in 2021. The men’s team pursuit squad won gold in Tokyo and on Sunday the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) awarded them the prize of Best Male Multiple Athlete Event in Tokyo.  

"This is the best-ever Italian track team," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport

"I’m proud to be the leader of the group of talented, young riders. We’ve never been this good. But now the bar has been raised higher and we can’t be happy with just the odd medal. The expectations are high and we’ll have to work even harder."

The Italian track team is now bullish for the 2024 Paris Olympics but is facing a staff shake-up as new Federation president Cordiano Dagnoni pushes through change among the national coaches. 

He has already appointed former Liquigas team manager Roberto Amadio as team manager, while Daniele Bennati is set to replace Davide Cassani as the selector of the men’s professional road team. Dino Salvoldi, the long-standing women's track and road coach is also to be replaced. Dagnoni will name his new coaches on November 2.     

Vivani is also facing change as he finally enjoys his off season. The sprinter from Verona will leave Cofidis for Ineos Grenadiers in 2022 in the hope of rediscovering at least some of the success he enjoyed during a rich spell with QuickStep between 2018 and 2019. 

He rode for Team Sky between 2015 and 2017 and will be allowed to again mix his road sprinting with track racing as he pursues other world titles. 

"It’s not the Omnium title but the gold medal in the Elimination race is a perfect way to open my rainbow jersey account," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I was inspired by the team pursuiters, seeing them on the podium gave me extra motivation. I hope this is the first of many rainbow jerseys."

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