Elia Viviani, who had an offer to put on the Deceuninck number again, to return to Ineos in 2022 to work for a three-year cycle that would culminate in the Olympic Games in Paris. The one who was the flag bearer of Italy in Tokyo, which this 2021 has shown that he can win again in any scenario after overcoming some heart problems and a bad run of results, analyzes everything related to current cycling in this conversation that took place in the Emirates during the celebration of the last Critrium of the Giro d’Italia.
What balance do you make of this demanding season in Cofidis?
It has been a year a bit of return. 2020 was difficult. It is true that I started with a victory in France, but then I had a heart operation. At the Giro I had an important moment because I did not win, but I regained my confidence when I saw that I made good positions. It showed me that I was competitive. Then came the Games, where I got the bronze and carried the flag. It was very important to me. Then he finished with the track World Cup and seven total wins in the race, which is a good booty. I lacked a success in a big lap, but I think I have returned to being competitive.
Go back to retrieve the Viviani version of the Sky?
Absolutely. I would like to be the Viviani of Quickstep again. I think that going back to an environment where I know the mechanism, the organization, the people … is important to me at this moment. Also make it a three-year contract, until the Games. Next year with this project he will probably be able to try again to win at the Giro. I also want Milan-San Remo and the World Cups, because that is going to be one of the last chances for me as a sprinter.
But when they called you, did they speak directly to you about focusing on Paris?
The project passes after the Tokyo medal. Ineos has a lot of men from Games like Carapaz, Pidcock, Ganna’s gold, Dennis’s bronze … he has a lot of Olympic riders. They sign me to work for Paris. Also, they want an experienced racer who is with a group of talented young people like Bernal, Pidcock, Hayter … If they have experienced people like Thomas, Kiato, me … we can make a great group. We can opt for great victories.
Why big will you decide?
It is not easy for a sprinter to work on the grand tours. In the training camp at the end of the year we will organize the races and there we will talk about where to end up going.
It seems that multidisciplinary runners are being valued more and more, right? Does it help to compete in another modality and then perform better on the track?
We are seeing that there are many riders with great discipline who can make the difference. Van der Poel and Van Aert come from the CX and are on the run. In the CX they have qualities that can later help in the race. It is multidisciplinary then it favors insurance.
Can Bernal beat Roglic and Pogacar? They still haven’t had a ‘face to face’ between the three of them.
I think so. Bernal has overcome the problems of recent times. In the Giro he was the ‘Patron’ and gave signs of maturity. Pogacar was incredible on the Tour, but I think the best Ineos around Bernal can compete against Tadej and Roglic.
Do you think Thomas can go back to being a ‘Tour man’?
He is going to be important in a big round like for example when Bernal won. I do not know if to win or to help with Bernal, but he will surely have a fundamental role. If we have climbers in front of us, we will be champions and Thomas is a champion. When Bernal won, Thomas was with the best and finished second in Paris. I see it in this direction.
How do you see the ‘Colbrelli phenomenon’?
He has always been strong, but sometimes he lacked the big victories. When he has centered his head, when he has won in conviction he has managed to be something impressive. The European, the Pars-Roubaix, which was precious for the Italians … he can win in classics like San Remo, Amstel, Flanders … it would be a great satisfaction.
With the Spanish and the Italians being so similar, why don’t we have so many good sprinters in Spain?
It’s true. In Italy in recent years we may be missing the new Nibali or Aru, but we have a lot of sprinters. I think it’s a generations thing. It goes by streaks. To have a climber who can win three weeks must be a phenomenon. Right now there are only Pogacar, Bernal and Roglic.
Who can be the new Nibali?
There is a man who is very competitive like Masnada, for example. Also Cattaneo who made a great last lap. We have to see how our youngsters grow to see if we can win another big one. There is also Ciccone, from whom you can expect the best or something not so good. It’s true that you can do a great three-week qualifying. He’s like Nibali, someone who is attacking and offensive, but has to improve in consistency to be a three-week-old man.
How do you imagine your next three perfect years?
Next year I would love to win the World Cup, which will be a beautiful victory. Then, in 2023, to win again in the Tour and finish with the gold of Paris in 2024.