Viviani looks forward to riding for Team Sky
Elia Viviani has yet to put pen to paper but speaking at the European Track Championships in Guadeloupe, where he is competing in the omnium, the Italian said that his transfer to Team Sky for the 2015 season is merely a formality.
“We’re just missing a few small details to make it official, my agent [Giovanni Lombardi – ed.] is on holiday, but the contract is there and ready to be signed and given back to [Dave] Brailsford,” Viviani told Gazzetta dello Sport.
Viviani was one of a reported eight Cannondale riders with a contract that could have seen him ride for the merged Garmin-Cannondale squad in 2015, but instead he explored a trio of other offers, from BMC, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky. He opted for the British team in part because of their willingness to allow him to build towards the omnium at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I’m very proud that they wanted me because they believe that I’m a rider capable of bringing in victories, and above all that they wanted to make me their emblematic rider for the Italian market with a very interesting project,” Viviani said.
“Then there’s the question of the track, and I’ve had maximum flexibility from Brailsford, who has guaranteed me every support possible for the Olympics. But I had no doubts. Being in a team like Sky, with all of its track experience, give you great security.”
Viviani’s debut for Sky will not come until March as the opening part of his season is focused on the Track Worlds from February 18-22. He is then pencilled in to ride Milan-San Remo, the cobbled classics and the Giro d’Italia.
Van Avermaet elected Flandrian of the year
Greg Van Avermaet fell agonisingly short at the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but the BMC man’s consistent 2014 campaign was recognised on Wednesday evening when he was elected winner of the prestigious “Flandrian” award in Belgium.
“It’s always exciting,” Van Avermaet said, according to RTBF. “You never know who the people are going to vote for. For my part, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s a prize voted for by people from the cycling world and they know the kind of rider I am and the results I’ve had.”
It was Van Avermaet’s third time to win the prize, after 2008 and 2013. He was a resounding winner, polling 281 points to Tim Wellens’ 119, while Sep Vanmarcke claimed third. Philippe Gilbert and Tom Boonen were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Newly-crowned world champion Michal Kwiatkowski was on hand to pick up the international award, Jolien D’Hoore won the women’s prize, while Sven Nys took the cyclo-cross gong.
Lampre-Merida signs 20-year-old Pibernik
2013 Slovenian national champion Luka Pibernik will make the jump to WorldTour level with Lampre-Merida next season after penning a two-year deal with the squad.
The 20-year-old arrives after spending three seasons with Continental outfit Radenska. Pibernik is the second rider to switch from Radenska to Lampre in recent seasons after his fellow countryman Jan Polanc.
“Pibernik has already shown that he can be competitive in tough races because he’s a natural talent and a robust rider,” Lampre manager Brent Copeland said. “He wasn’t at his best in the 2014 season because of some physical problems but now he’s ready to look forward to next season.”
Cancellara set to miss Japan Cup
Fabian Cancellara was due to travel to Utsunomiya to participate in Saturday's Japan Cup but according to the race website, the Trek rider will now miss the event after crashing while training at home in Switzerland prior to departure.
The Tour of Flanders winner had been slated to line up in the Trek team alongside Fumiyuki Beppu, Hayden Roulston, Julian Arredondo and Yaroslav Popovych.