Viviani quickly issued a public apology to his compatriot but maintained that he felt he was unfairly blocked against the barriers in the home straight in Canale.
Cimolai opened the sprint from the bunch behind solo winner Taco van der Hoorn, moving around Viviani's lead-out man on the left before moving back over to the right. Viviani was never able to get past and settled for fourth, just behind Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Beyond the line, the pair came alongside one another as their speed decreased, and Viviani appeared to elbow Cimolai's right-hand side with his left arm, albeit softly.
"I'm sorry to Cimolai for my after the finish line reaction, but when I see he do the opposite to close me on the barrier, it was really frustrating," Viviani said.
In the end, it would have been frustrating even if he had found a way past Cimolai, as Van der Hoorn foiled what appeared to be a gilt-edged opportunity.
Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe team had set such a pace on the climbs as to weed out a number of the fastest finishers, including Caleb Ewan and stage 2 winner Tim Merlier.
"For that reason, it was a chance not to lose," Viviani said. "In the end, fourth place on the line. A lot of fatigue on the climbs for nothing."
Viviani has only won one race since joining Cofidis at the start of 2020, and is looking for his first Grand Tour stage win since the 2019 Tour de France. After his winter was disrupted by a heart problem, he has shown signs of getting up to speed at Cofidis and, after placing third the previous day in Novara, there was cause for optimism on Monday.
"We look for the next one," he said. "We are always there, so hopefully the consistency pays off."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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