Elia Viviani's extraordinary road-track double at European Championships

MUNICH GERMANY AUGUST 14 Gold medalist Elia Viviani of Italy celebrates after winning the Mens Elimination Race Final during the cycling track competition on day 4 of the European Championships Munich 2022 at Messe Muenchen on August 14 2022 in Munich Germany Photo by Sebastian WidmannGetty Images
Elia Viviani wins the elimination race just five hours after competing in the road race (Image credit: Getty Images)

Elia Viviani's gold medal in the elimination race at the European Championships was a considerable achievement in its own right, but it was all-the-more extraordinary a feat considering he was a top-10 finisher in the road race just five hours previously. 

While his road rivals recovered and rested after more than 200 kilometres and nearly five hours of racing, Viviani headed straight across town to Munich's velodrome. 

After a quick warm-up, he was pulling on his rainbow skinsuit for the elimination race, his status as world champion in the discipline fuelling his hunger to honour the jersey and the event. 

He did more than that, winning gold with a canny display that combined the risky but necessary energy-saving tactics early on, before opening up as the field reduced and picking off the last riders with relative ease. 

"It was my second outing in the rainbow jersey, and there won't be any more, so I wanted to be there," Viviani explained, according to TuttoBici, adding that not everyone at the Italian Federation saw the method in his madness.

"I confess that Marco Villa was not so convinced of my choice, Roberto Amadio and President Dagnoni were more so, but after all, it went well."

Viviani had led Italy in the road race on Sunday, sprinting to seventh place in the big bunch gallop in Munich. He was done before 3pm, and just five hours later he was on the track in Sunday's evening session. 

"After the road race I got on the national team bus, I took a shower, then we had a meeting to debrief the race, then I went back to the hotel, the masseur was waiting for me, and I had a nice massage," Viviani explained. 

"An hour before the elimination race I arrived at the velodrome, half an hour of warm-up and then... this, a beautiful race."

With the clock gone 9pm and the gold medal around his neck, there was still no time for rest. "I'm off to dinner with my teammates - we have to celebrate Jacopo Guarnieri's birthday," Viviani added. 

Viviani will not ride a Grand Tour in his first season back at Ineos Grenadiers but is set to return to the sprint-friendly Classics in Hamburg and Bretagne in the coming weeks. 

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Patrick Fletcher