Elia Viviani said he will sleep easy before Saturday's final stage of the Dubai Tour, convinced he can defend his two-second overall lead and even celebrate overall victory by winning the final stage in downtown Dubai.
Viviani has won 51 races thanks to his fast finish, but his last stage race victory was back in 2013 when he won the three-day Tour of Elk Grove in the US. Winning the Dubai Tour would lift him to another level as a rider and confirm he is on track for a successful 2018 following his move to Quick-Step Floors in the off season.
Viviani dug deep to finish sixth on the climb up the 17 per cent slopes of Hatta Dam on Friday's stage 4. He managed to distance Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) but finished in the same time of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana), who are now respectively four and two seconds behind in the overall classification.
With the Quick-Step Floors team able to protect him and lead him out in the final 132km stage, Viviani is not losing any sleep about somehow missing out on overall victory.
"I can sleep easy before the last stage because I've got a really strong team. It'd be great to secure overall victory by winning the final stage," he said with a hint of bravado.
"We've got the jersey. I'd be more worried for the final sprint if I didn't have such a strong team. Anything can happen, but I know that my team will protect me and lead me out. Now it's all up to me. Fingers crossed that I win."
Doing the math
Viviani refused to reveal his strategy for the flat-but-twisting fifth and final stage through the skyscrapers and desert landscapes of Dubai. The 132km stage includes two intermediate sprints at the 68km and 105km points with 3-2-1 seconds up for grabs. Time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds are awarded at the finish.
Doing the maths is simple for Viviani, who has won Olympic Gold in the Omnium and is a master of many a points race and Madison on the track.
"It would have been if the American rider had won the stage and taken the 10-second time bonus but it could have been worse because if Cort Nielsen had won, he'd have taken the jersey by two seconds," Viviani pointed out.
For sure we've created my chance of overall success on the climb to Hatta Dam. We started the stage with just four seconds on Cavendish and so it's better to have two seconds on Nielsen and four on Colbrelli, than have the same gaps on the pure sprinters.
"Will we chase the intermediate time bonuses? It's a good question, but we’ll decide what to do in our team meeting. It could be an advantage to try to gain a few seconds, but I could also lose some seconds. I think it'll come down to the final sprint, so it will be important to get it right. We think we’re the fastest, so we should try to win the stage too and sort out everything with another victory."
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