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Viviani ready for sprint at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

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Elia Viviani cut a relaxed figure ahead of the stage

Elia Viviani cut a relaxed figure ahead of the stage
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)
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Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) enjoys his first victory of 2019

Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) enjoys his first victory of 2019
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) in the leader's ochre jersey

Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) in the leader's ochre jersey
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Remi Cavagna put in a lot of work for Elia Viviani during stage 2 at Tour Down Under

Remi Cavagna put in a lot of work for Elia Viviani during stage 2 at Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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Elia Viviani with a kangaroo at the Tour Down Under

Elia Viviani with a kangaroo at the Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Cyclingnews)

Elia Viviani will lead the Deceuninck-QuickStep team at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Criterium and Road Race on January 24 in Melbourne and January 27 in Geelong. The Italian champion is aiming to continue his early-season success with a victory.

"We have a very motivated Elia, who was runner-up last year and wants to be again in contention for a solid result," said QuickStep team director Rik Van Slycke.

Viviani will be supported in the race by Rémi Cavagna, Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honoré, James Knox, Michael Mørkøv and Fabio Sabatini.

The Italian champion arrives at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean 'weekend' in top form, fresh off of a stage win at the opening day of the Tour Down Under, where he took the first leader's jersey in the process.

In last year's edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Viviani finished second behind winner Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe). It was a thrilling finale as two small groups, the first containing McCarthy and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), and the second including Viviani, merged and sprinted to the finish line.

The criterium will kick things off on Thursday with a 14-lap circuit race on a 5.3km loop of the Formula 1 Grand Prix track. Sunday's road race will be 163km that will start in Melbourne. The peloton will take on the steep Challambra climb four times before finishing in Geelong.

"It will not be easy, because the field here is strong, but we have a plan and more than one rider who can be in the mix in the finale," Van Slycke said.

"It’s pretty hot at the moment, and it looks like the mercury will go up also on Thursday, when we have the criterium, but we hope it will be better on Sunday. Regardless of the conditions, we are ready for the challenge."