Feature Interview – Elia Viviani


Elia Viviani “when I have the best team with me, we can beat anyone” says one of the World’s fastest road sprinters

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Feature Interview – Elia Viviani

A few weeks ago, Elia Viviani was winning the European Omnium title on the track in Sweden but it’s on the road that the Italian has made a big leap forward in 2015 after joining Team Sky.


He joined the British outfit after four years with an Italian team and the transformation to one of the fastest road sprinters has been dramatic. Elia has been getting great results for a long time in cycling with victory in Binche-Tournai-Binche one of four wins in 2010. There were many more wins in 2011 on the road and also medals in the Track World Championships.

The young sprinter continued to grow and bring victories for his team including his first in the Tour of Britain in 2013 during a season which also saw him win a stage in the Criterium Dauphine.

In a sport where most pros would be happy with one or two wins, for Elia, he continued to deliver for his sponsors but it wasn’t until 2015 that he truly arrived as one of the sports ‘superstar sprinters’. Twenty four top ten placings but it was the victories that brought him to the attention of the world in a big way.

“I think it was an amazing year for me with good results on the road and the track” Elia told me at Revolution where he was competing. The first thing that impressed me about this sprint superstar was Elia’s command of the English language which no doubt helps a great deal being in an English speaking team.

His palmeres for 2015 is very special. As well as two medals at the World Track Championships (bronze in the Omnium and Silver in the Madison), Elia also added another European Omnium title to his collection in the recent championships in Switzerland.

But it’s on the road that he has risen to superstar status in the hurly burly world of the bunch sprints. Not only his first Grand Tour stage win in his home race, the Giro d’Italia, but also three stages in the Tour of Britain which included beating two of the hottest tickets in sprinting, Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish.

At the start of the season, Elia won stage 2 in the Dubai Tour, was part of the Team Time Trial squad for Sky that won the Tour of Romandie TTT and won stage 1 in the World Tour Eneco Tour. Elia was also third in the early season classic, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne. He finished with two stage wins in Abu Dhabi.

He admits, as the stats shows, that it was his best season ever. “I improve every year and this one I improve more” Elia explained. “I start with a good sprint in Dubai (3rd on the first stage) and beat Cavendish to win stage 2 and then have two medals (Silver/Bronze) at the Track Worlds”

“The big result was the Giro d’Italia where I take one stage win and for me, that was the most important win of the season. Then, we do a good finale to the season. We stop in the summer for a good rest and come back strong for the last part of the season”.

“We get good result in Eneco Tour (stage win), fantastic results in the Tour of Britain with three stages and also in Adbu Dabi (two stage wins and Points jersey) and I also did a good World Championship on the road”.

Elia is certainly one of the highest profile road riders to combine a career on the road and track. But will qualifying for the Rio Olympics make it a busy winter after a long season on the road? His first result was a second place, way back in January in the Trofeo Santanyi-Ses Salines-Campos (1.1) (Challenge Mallorca races) and here we were in October at a busy track open in Revolution.

“Luckily no” he replies. “I do not do a lot of events on the track but when I go, I go in very good condition and take a lot of points. So, I only do Euro track and first World Cup and then the World Championships”.

“I am in quite a good position as this year, I win the European title and this is the most important as I am leading rider in Europe on the rankings (Omnium). I now hope to do the first World Cup (Cali) without pressure and then prepare in the best mode for the road season.”

Elia then goes on to explain that there is no clash between road and track in 2016 when the Rio Olympics will be a major goal for him. “Next year’s programme will be the same as this year for me. I do the road for the first part of the season, from the start to the Giro d’Italia and then after, we prepare for the Olympic Games.”

“I will then come back to the road for the final part of the season. I do this programme in 2012 as well. I need to prepare better for the track because in 2012, I don’t do a lot of specific work for the time trial races (track) and I need to improve in them for Rio. So, after the Giro, I have a lot of time to do this.”

“It is fun for me on the track. I have really good people around me. Marco Villa is one of the best coaches I could have and all the young riders with me on the track make it fun so for me, it’s not hard to do the track after the road season”.

So 2016 will see Elia have several goals on road and track. “I have the Olympic dream on the track but in my palmeres, I want also to take some big victories on the road” he explains. “Giro d’Italia is one, winning stages and then improve in the classics as well next season”.

The races against the watch is where Elia feels he needs to improve for the 2016 Olympics on the track

Elia and Team Sky
One of the key things helping Elia to make the move to beating the best in the world is the backing he has from Team Sky. For sure, some riders come into the team and it doesn’t work for them, like Joshua Edmondson who we interviewed last week.

But for Elia, it’s been the perfect fit. “I have fitted in really really well at Team Sky. It is one of the best teams in the World with organisation and the staff. Everyone there has a specific role in the team and the riders only need to ever think of racing and training. This is really important and there is no stress on this team”.


In Yellow at the Aviva Tour of Britain

“We are one of the top teams, and sure, there is pressure to get results but I think for me, I need a little pressure to take a win. I am really enjoying racing at Team Sky. People think that there is no support for the sprinters at Sky because they only think of GC but I think we have a really good sprint team”.

“Andy Fenn is one of the best lead out riders for me. Swifty (Ben Swift) is also a strong rider. He finished third in Milan San Remo and this year he work for me to get wins and the most stages I can. We see at Abu Dhabi and Tour of Britain, they do amazing work. Ian Stannard, Andy Fenn, Swifty, Peter Kennaugh; these guys are really strong and work for me and make me very proud.”

“When I see them working at the front for me, I know I have the responsibility to make a result and that is exciting for me”.

“This year, I take this big step in beating Andre (Greipel) and Mark (Cavendish). I know some sprinters are stronger than me but when I have the best team with me, we can beat anyone. So for this year, I beat a few times Cav, a few times Andre, and now I know I can beat the strongest sprinters in the world so when we go to a race, we don’t fear anyone”.

Elia added that not every time does a sprinter, when there’s a bunch kick, get the victory but when he is in top form, he knows he can get a top result. At the Aviva Tour of Britain, he showed that time and time again.


2013 and Viviani wins his first stage in the Tour of Britain

“Being at the Tour of Britain with Team Sky was an amazing experience. There were a lot of fans on the road and I hear my name and this excites me. I am part of Team Sky but I am also Italian but these people cheer for me and this is really exciting”.

“For all of the Tour of Britain, we have a lot of people on the road, the same as in the big stages of the Grand Tours, and this is not normal for the other one week races, so it is really exciting for the riders to come here to race the Tour of Britain”.

Having watched Elia battle with the superstar sprinters in the Tour of Britain and win was a great experience. It showed that these bunch kicks are not just about two or three riders (Cav, Kittel and Greipel) but others such as Viviani which makes them that more exciting.

All we need to see now is Elia race the Tour de France on the biggest, badest stage there is in sprinting on the road …

Thank you Elia for the interview and good luck in Cali.



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