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"We selected our goals, prepared for them in the best way, and as a result I have improved as a sprinter, to the extent that now I am really competitive with the big sprinters in the world."

Photo: Sirotti






09.10.2015 @ 20:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani powered to an impressive victory on stage two at the Abu Dhabi Tour to move into the overall race lead.


The Italian continued what has been a brilliant debut season at Team Sky, timing his sprint to perfection to claim his seventh win on the road in 2015, and Team Sky's 40th.


Rebounding from the disappointment of Thursday's opening test, a combination of 10 bonus seconds and consistent stage placings enabled Viviani to move into the red leader's jersey.


Dropped into the mix by a lead-out train of Andy Fenn and Ben Swift, Viviani followed the acceleration of world champion Peter Sagan before pushing beyond the Tinkoff-Saxo rider to take the win.


Fabio Sabatini (Etixx - Quick-Step) rounded out the podium, with Viviani now sitting at the top of the GC, level on time with compatriot and stage one victor Andrea Guardini (Astana).


After getting through a lot of pacing work on the opening day Team Sky opted to take more of a backseat role for much of the 130km Capital Stage. Sebastien Henao, Leopold Konig and Wout Poels were all involved as Team Sky hit the front on the approach to Yas Mall, with Viviani showing his undisputed speed to finish it off.


The searing heat returned for a second day in Abu Dhabi, with Astana and Giant-Alpecin linking up to monitor the situation with six riders up the road. Again the breakaway fractured during the day and the race came back together in the final kilometres.


"I am riding strongly in this final part of the season, and the support from my team has been excellent," he said. "Yesterday, the team worked all day, but I lost position on the final corner and I had to make up too much ground to make the top three. Today we decided to do no work, and to leave me two team-mates for the lead-out. 


"About 1km from the finish, I had to make a big effort to get on Sagan's wheel. On the final corner, Palini and another rider moved on the inside, but I did not like the look of it and held back. Sagan went, and I knew I had to wait, but not too long because he is so strong. But sprinting is my job, and I managed to get past him, and I am delighted to have taken another win. The conditions today were considerably better than yesterday, and it was a good day for me and the team.


"I made my first effort with 1.5 km to go because I was right at the back. I made directly for Sagan's wheel, but of course I was not the only one: Palini and Mezgec were close by. I didn't want to take any risks on the final corner. They were prepared to do so. I decided to wait a second and see if I had the legs after the corner. Sagan was obviously the best bet for today's sprint, and only [his team-mate] Bennati and one Etixx rider were ahead of him. After the corner, I went for Peter's wheel. When he started his sprint, I waited a second, but no more, because he is so strong, and I managed to pass him in the final 20 metres.


"It's a lucky place for me! Those two races [Dubai Tour and Abu Dhabi Tour] are at different moments of the season. I was lucky to be able to do Dubai just before the Track World Championships, and Abu Dhabi just after the Road World Championships, so I came into both races with good form. We were disappointed yesterday because I was in a bad position, and it was hard to work at the front to catch the breakaway with only six riders. But today we did a really good job.

"We are happy to have the jersey, but tomorrow's stage is obviously too hard for me. We have Wout Poels and Leopold Konig in the team, and we will be working for them. Tomorrow is going to be a work day for me but, after tomorrow, I will look ahead to Sunday.

"This year with Team Sky has been really good for me. We selected our goals, prepared for them in the best way, and as a result I have improved as a sprinter, to the extent that now I am really competitive with the big sprinters in the world.


"In the last few years, I have stepped up each year. This year, with a new team, new motivation, and strong riders around me, I have taken really good steps forward.


"Now I need to step up in the classics. There are not many classics that suit me, but Milano Sanremo is one, Gent Wevelgem is another, and, in the last part of the season, the Vattenfall Classic in Hamburg and Plouay.


"After the first part of next season on the road, I will focus on riding the Olympic track program, and then we have World Championships that are completely flat. But first I want to finish this season well on Sunday's stage."



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