It has been exactly the start to the Adriaica Ionica Race that Elia Viviani was looking for, lining up with the Italian national team to sprint to victory in the opening stage from Trieste to Aviano. It’s a feat the Cofidis rider hopes to replicate, not only in this race, but also in Tokyo.
Opting not to follow his stint at the Giro d’Italia by racing the Tour de France with Cofidis, the 32-year-old Italian rider is instead using the three-day Adriatica Ionica to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The 2016 gold medallist will be riding the Omnium, Team Pursuit and Madison on the track and he'll also be carrying the flag for Italy at the opening ceremony, together with shooter Jessica Rossi.
“I came to this race to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and to try to win again,” said Viviani, who to settle for two third places and a fourth at the Giro d'Italia.
“I wanted to win here because victory brings victory: I want to try again on Thursday at the finish line in Comacchio, then at the Giro di Sardegna and Tokyo. The sensations are excellent, they were also great in the Giro but unfortunately what was missing was the result that has finally arrived.”
A five rider break was brought back with just four kilometers of the 185 kilometre stage left, and from then the Italian national team took control as the race twisted its way toward the line and then lead out the 32-year-old sprinter who came over the line to take his 80th win. Next over the line it was Davide Persico (Colpack Ballan) and Luca Pacioni (Eolo-Kometa).
The victory was Viviani's second this season after he broke through at Cholet Pays de la Loire in March following a lean 2020.
“Today I felt myself at home: I knew the roads well and everything went in the proper way,” said Viviani in a statement. “All my teammates were fantastic: even if we met only yesterday, they made a perfect [train] for me. The Italian National Team jersey has given us the right motivation and the result has completely satisfied us.”
After the win in the opening stage, Viviani also leads the overall classification, though the 148 kilometre stage 2 of the 2.1 ranked Italian race is expected to shake up the general classification as it climbs up to Cima Grappa, providing 18.8 kilometres with an average gradient of 8.9 per cent. The third and final 157 kilometre stage between Ferrara and Comacchio, however, is flat but wind and six stretches of dirt roads, totalling 15 kilometres, make it far from straightforward.
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