Elia Viviani capitalised on his Quick Step Floors teammates’ excellent work at the Santos Tour Down Under today to take a maiden stage victory at the Australian World Tour race, where he returned for the first time since 2014.
It was the hottest day of this year’s race, with temperatures hitting 47 degrees, and for that very reason the organisers decided to reduce the stage between Glenelg and Victor Harbor by 26 kilometres.
Despite the scorching heat, three riders broke clear from the outset of the stage and enjoyed a three-minute buffer before the peloton pegged them back one by one, with the catch being made on the final lap of the Victor Harbor circuit.
With under ten kilometres to go, Dries Devenyns, Fabio Sabatini and Michael Mørkøv brought Elia Viviani to the front of the peloton, knowing the final part of the stage was a very technical one, with one roundabout and two tight corners packed in the closing 1500 metres.
The experienced Dane dropped off Viviani with 200 meters to go and the Italian blasted past race leader Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) despite the ground he had to make, taking a convincing victory by two bike lengths.
“Today it was very hot and that only made the stage harder. For that matter, it was very important to keep hydrating and make sure there’s some energy left in the tank for the final 200 metres,” said Elia Viviani
“The guys did a perfect job today and I want to thank them for helping me get this win. The victory is important not only for the confidence, but also because it shows that I had a good winter preparation.”
Only the sixth Italian rider to put his name on the winners’ sheet at the Tour Down Under, Viviani drew a lot of satisfaction from Thursday’s spectacular victory: “The first win of the year is always the hardest one to get. I was determined to start the season on the right foot and this success gives me great joy.
“I had good legs this week, you could see I was always there in the other stages, but needed just a few days to get that race feeling with my teammates and put things into place. I’m very happy everything went perfect today and I netted a victory so early in the season.”