Olympic gold medallist Elia Viviani has revealed that he plans to donate the €75,000 prize he received from the Italian Olympic Committee to the cycling club and track where he first started cycling as a boy.
The Italian won gold in the omnium event on the track at the Rio 2016 Olympics, beating Mark Cavendish and Lasse Norman Hansen by securing victory in an intense final points race. Viviani crashed early on but got back up to defend his lead. He broke down in tears after celebrating his gold medal ride with his parents, who were at the track in Rio.
Viviani took one of Italy's eight gold medals in Brazil but his hard-fought victory in the six-race omnium captured many peoples' hearts and he was named as the second best medal winner according to a vote organised by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Each Italian gold medallist is awarded a special prize of €75,000 by the Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI) for a gold medal. Viviani has generously decided to donate his prize to help grass roots cycling near his home in Verona.
"I'm considering exactly what to do with the prize. I want to help the young cycling teams in my local area, the same ones where I grew up," Viviani said, according to Tuttobiciweb.
"I also want to donate something to the Pescantina outdoor velodrome, near Verona, where everything began for me. That's where I learnt to race on the track and I want to help other local kids race on the track."
The Team Sky sprinter was given a hero's welcome when he returned to Italy and his local cycling clubs celebrated his success with a special event on Friday.
"I'm proud to have flown the flag for Italy, to have given the Italian sports fans something to cheer about," he said.
Viviani is set to return to road racing at next week's Tour of Britain (September 4-11) and then the Eneco Tour (September 19-25) as he targets a place in the nine-rider Italian squadra for world road race championships in Qatar.
He is convinced his sprinting speed and racing ability will mean he can fight for the rainbow jersey against the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Demare. However he faces some serious competition within Italy from Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo, Matteo Trentin, Sonny Colbrelli and Kristian Sbaragli.
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