Ganna factor helps Elia Viviani choose Ineos Grenadiers over QuickStep

Giro d'Italia Criteirum - Expo 2020 Dubai - Riders Presentation - 05/11/2021 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Ineos Grenadiers) - Elia Viviani (ITA - Cofidis) - Egan Bernal (COL - Ineos Grenadiers) - Peter Sagan (SVK - Bora - Hansgrohe) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021
Viviani with his future teammates Ganna (left) and Bernal (right) at the Giro d'Italia Criterium in Dubai (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Elia Viviani has said that he chose to return to Ineos Grenadiers because it was the right 'project' for him, revealing that he wants to win races but also help a new generation of riders do the same.

The Italian sprinter rode for the British team for three years between 2015 and 2017, before spending two years at Deceuninck-QuickStep and the past two years at Cofidis.

After two relatively fallow years at the French squad, Viviani, speaking at the Giro d’Italia Criterium in Dubai on Saturday, said he was keen to return to a familiar environment. 

"I am going back there because I want to be sure, at 32 years old, and go back to a team that I know - the mechanisms, the organisations and everything," he said.

"I want to have nothing to think about - just thinking about performance."

Viviani confirmed that he had also the option to return to Deceuninck-QuickStep, but chose Ineos, partly due to his relationship with compatriot, the world time trial champion Filippo Ganna.

"There were two roads, Deceuninck or Ineos, and the project of Ineos was much bigger for me, and the relationship with Filippo [Ganna] helped a lot in this contract and in this choice," Viviani said. 

"Now I'm different, also Ineos is different I think, so it's going to be a good format. They want to win more, I want to win more, so that is our middle point. Winning races. It's easy to say, but what I understand from the two years at Cofidis is what looks easy is never easy.”

During his previous three-year stint at Ineos Grenadiers, Viviani won 19 races but found his opportunities - particularly in Grand Tours - restricted by the team's focus on the general classification in stage races. 

He will, however, be returning to a different kind of team.

"They have a big number of young talents there, and then an experienced group like G [Geraint Thomas] - the base of the team. Mix these experienced guys with the super talented guys like Tom Pidcock and [Ethan] Hayter, Filippo [Ganna], it's a really good mix. 

"We need to help these guys go to the top. I still want to win a lot of races but I see in Hayter a really phenomenal rider. We still need to do the first meeting, but then I will understand everything about what they expect from me and what I can give to the team."

Tough times at Cofidis

During Viviani’s time at Deceuninck-QuickStep, he won four stages of the Giro d’Italia, a Tour de France stage, and three at the Vuelta a España, before switching to Cofidis.

His 2020 season at Cofidis was marred by the pandemic, however, and was the first year of his career that he went winless. During his second season with the French team, he won seven races, a bronze medal at the Olympics on the track, and the World Championship elimination race on the track.

The Italian explained: "2020 was really hard for me, probably the pandemic, the situation at home, I did all the serious stuff then, like training indoors and everything. 2020 was not a good year, not a good year to probably change team as well, because you go in a new atmosphere, new teammates, a new direction in a pandemic. That mix was really unlucky. 

"2021 started badly with the news about my heart surgery, which was solved in 20 days, but that was 20 days in the middle of January, so the start of the season was not easy. The top moment was for sure the Olympics. In the Giro d'Italia I was back being confident, but not a stage win, which I missed in 2021. I had seven wins in road races, which were still good wins, I just missed one big win, like a stage in Tirreno, a stage in the Giro or something really good."

Viviani has nothing but respect for the Cofidis team, however. He told Cyclingnews: "The passion of the Cofidis family is unbelievable, all these years together. Probably with this pandemic and everything we needed one more year to get to my level with Cofidis. Unfortunately, the contract was two years and now we have different projects on our roads. 

"What I learned was that putting the pieces together, like the lead-out, is not too easy to copy. When you spend two years with Deceuninck like that, it looks like everything is easy, but it wasn't. That was what I learned. If it looks easy, it is never easy. 

"I need to thanks Cofidis, because they invested in me and believed in our project. Now we have different roads."

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Adam Becket is the staff writer for Procycling magazine. Prior to covering the sport of cycling, he wrote about ecclesiastical matters for the Church Times and politics for Business Insider. He has degrees in history and journalism. A keen cyclist himself, Adam’s favourite race is the Tour of Flanders or Strade Bianche, and he can't wait to go to the Piazza del Campo for the end of the race one day.