Elia Viviani is hoping to match top-line sprinters Tyler Farrar, Andre Greipel, Alessandro Petacchi, Allan Davis and Andrea Guardini at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, which starts this Sunday running until May 1st.
The 2010 edition of the Turkish event was the scene of Viviani's first win as a professional road cyclist. He won stage 7 to Antalya and gave an indication that he can be as successful on the road as on the track where he was already a multiple Italian and European champion.
"I had the best pro debut I could have expected", Viviani remembers. "We came with a young team. Everyone was allowed to try his luck and win a stage. I competed in two bunch sprints before I understood how it worked. With more experience, I won stage 7. I was lucky but my timing was also right. I was the right man at the right position entering the final curves. There was a controversy with Giovanni Visconti, so it ruined my satisfaction of winning the stage, but once he apologized, everything was ok."
Viviani is quite talkative when discussions come to his first participation to the Presidential Tour of Turkey. "I have found memories of that race", he said. "The course was wonderful, the landscapes were beautiful and the organisation was perfect. I suffered on my bike but my desire to do well and my excitement of beginning my pro career on the road were stronger than my fatigue. For ever, it's in Turkey that I won my first pro race, so it remains amazing in my mind."
It's no surprise that Viviani put his hands up to return to Turkey for the second year in a row. In the meantime, he has improved a lot. He began the 2011 road season with two victories: one in Mumbai, India, and the Italian opening race GP Etruschi. He also claimed the silver medal in the scratch race at the track world championships in Appeldoorn, the Netherlands, at the end of March qualifying him for the Olympic Games in London next year.
"After a very intense beginning of the year, I've had a bit of a break, so I might suffer a little bit in the first stages of the Tour of Turkey", the 22 year-old warned. "It doesn't matter because we come to Istanbul with another sprinter, Jacopo Guarnieri, so I'll help him until I find the right condition for trying to win a stage again. I approach this race with no pressure but the ambition to repeat the success I got last year. I think it'll be a very interesting race again. There are eight long stages that suit my characteristics. I'm really glad to see the Presidential Tour of Turkey becoming always more prestigious, year after year, with great champions and world tour teams participating. This time I'm sure we will have some fun again."