Viviani back on track and planning for the Tokyo Olympics

It was Italy's Elia Viviani who eventually got the better of home favourite Mark Cavendish to take the overall title at the 2019 Six Day London
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Elia Viviani raced for 82 day on the road with Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2019 but is already back in the saddle and will ride this weekend's Track World Cup in Minsk, Belarus, as he prepares to defend his gold medal in the Omnium at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Viviani and his expected Madison partner for Tokyo, Simone Consonni, won the recent Six Day London event, pulling back a lap in the Final Chase race, with Viviani going on the attack to hit the line first and seal victory ahead of sprint and track rival Mark Cavendish and Owain Doull.

"It's always pleasing to beat a champion like Mark. We were challenging each other every night and people at the track loved it," Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport with pride.

"I've never seen him on winning form in the last two years but he looked good. He wants to show that he's not finished and changing teams has perhaps given new motivation."

The Manxman helped Fernando Gaviria snatch the Omnium world title in 2016 but Viviani took revenge by winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games.

Cavendish is not expected to return to the track for the 2020 Olympics, with Viviani revealing why.

"I don’t think the Olympics are part of his programme but I didn’t think that four years ago and he became my number one rival. But with only five places available, if Great Britain select him, they wouldn't have a reserve for the team pursuit. I can't see that happening," Viviani explained.

Vivian will move from Deceuninck-QuickStep to Cofidis for 2020, leading the French team in the sprints as its steps up to WorldTour level. However he will also proudly fly the flag for Italy in Tokyo, with events this winter vital to secure qualification points for Tokyo.

"I'm going to ride the Omnium on Saturday and the Madison on Sunday. I could also ride the team pursuit because it's been a while but will see how I feel. My goal is to improve my result in the Omnium at the European Championships. I was at the level of fifth or sixth but now I want to aim for a podium spot.

Viviani revealed the riders were obliged to use a lower gear of 53x15 for Six Day London. That affected the racing but helped him polish his form.

"As a roadie I prefer to use a 14 but using a 15 was good for the high cadence. In the final Madison, when we were in action, I pedaled at 120-130 pedal strokes a minute. In the last two laps we were at between 137 and 140 and in a sprint close to 160," Viviani explained.

"In the World Cup we use 53x14 but the organisers in London asked us to use a 15 so there wouldn't be a big difference between the teams. It happens at other Six Days so that we're not dead after three days and so that there's more spectacular racing in the final days. It changes the way you race; you can’t make the same difference in a sprint but emerge over time. In London, the last 120 minutes of the Madison's were really hard. Doull missed turns and even Cav was in crisis."

Viviani is expected to ride the famous Gent Six in mid-November and then take a short break before preparing for his 2020 road season with Cofidis. It is unclear if he will mix road racing and track in the spring of 2020.

"I'll be starting in Australia and then I need to carefully think about my February plans because it’s the only month where I've made mistakes in the past," he explained.

"I'll then ride Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders. Paris-Roubaix, like the Giro d'Italia is still in doubt. Before the Olympics, I'll ride the Tour."

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