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JERUSALEM (VN) — Elia Viviani knows Team Sky from the inside after racing with the British outfit for three seasons and said Wednesday if Chris Froome manages to win the Giro d’Italia it would be “his biggest win.”
Froome starts the Giro on Friday with intense pressure from his ongoing Salbutamol case. Viviani, now on Quick-Step, has been watching with interest from the sidelines.
“I think if he wins the Giro with all that is behind him and the pressure that is on his shoulders, it will be the biggest win of his career,” Viviani said Wednesday. “I have big respect for Chris, and I think he is the favorite for victory in this Giro.”
Viviani raced from 2015-2017 with Team Sky before switching to Quick-Step this season. The move has given him more opportunities to win, and he enters the Giro as one of the top favorites in the sprint stages. When it comes time for the favorites to slug it out for the pink jersey, he expects Team Sky and Froome to be in the hunt for the overall.
“I know the people on the team really well, and I think they are here to win,” Viviani said. “If we are speaking about why Froome is here, he is thinking about winning the Tour, Vuelta, and Giro, and making history. … I think he is the best contender of the Giro.”
Viviani comes to the Giro off his best start to his season, with six victories so far in 2018. Quick-Step doesn’t bring a pure GC rider to the race, so while Froome and the others will be fighting for the win, Viviani will be focused on the sprints.
The Giro will dangle a carrot for the sprinters with the final stage, which ends in Rome. In 2017, the Giro ended with a time trial, providing little incentive for the fast men to ride all the way to the finish. For 2018, riders like Viviani should have more motivation to suffer through the final week of mountains.
“I am here to finish the Giro,” Viviani said. “We all know the Giro is hard for the sprinters, but this year, we have extra motivation. The final sprint into Rome is an amazing scenario to finish the Giro.”
Viviani, 29, won a stage in the 2015 Giro, his only grand tour stage win in six grand tour starts.
The Italian sprinter likes racing in the desert, with some of his top wins this season coming in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so he’s hoping to keep that streak going in Israel. Friday’s stage 1 time trial might be too long and difficult for him to stay within striking distance to try to take the pink jersey later on time bonuses, but he wants to leave Israel with a stage win in the two flat finales in store before the Giro returns to Italy on Monday.
“I am quite confident on this side of the world,” he said of heat, wind, and sand. “I want to continue this winning feeling in this part of the world.”
Viviani’s dream finale is to win some Giro stages and the points jersey. And why not? The pink jersey.
“If I can stay within 20 seconds in the prologue and then win two stages, I can take the pink jersey,” he said. “Why not dream?”