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Elia Viviani poised to join Sky

Viviani hopes to be Sky's go-to sprinter in Italian races and has plans to target the track at the Rio Olympics

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Elia Viviani (Cannondale) looks poised to join Team Sky for 2015, a move that could open more doors for riders at Garmin-Sharp.

The 25-year-old Italian sprinter told La Gazzetta dello Sport that a deal is all but done, and he’s only waiting for the signatures to be signed to a contract that would bring him to the UK-registered team.

“I chose Sky for a few reasons. They showed confidence in me, and the want to make me a showcase rider in the Italian market,” he told the Italian sports daily. “There’s also the track side of things. [Dave] Brailsford showed support for my desires to try for the Olympics. To have a team like Sky, with a lot of track experience, it made for an easy decision.”

There was no official confirmation from Team Sky officials Thursday. Viviani added that he also had offers from Orica-GreenEdge and BMC Racing.

Viviani has emerged as a promising sprinter, picking up 30 pro wins since 2010, including WorldTour-level victories at such races as the Tour of Beijing and the Critérium du Dauphiné. He’s raced four grand tours, making his Tour de France debut this summer with Cannondale, but he’s come up short of a stage victory.

Viviani is also an active track rider, competing in several world championships, and in the omnium event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, when he was sixth. He hopes to compete on the boards again during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in two years.

Viviani’s decision to join Sky will open up another spot at Gamin-Sharp — soon to be Cannondale — for next season, with the team set to merge with Cannondale for 2015.

Viviani was one of eight existing Cannondale riders widely reported to be under contract for next season, deals that are part of the plans to merge the Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp squads going into 2015.

Viviani did not expand on why he did not join the Slipstream-managed team, only saying, “Once the possibility with Garmin faded, I considered three teams.”

With Viviani heading to Sky, however, that opens up room for other riders searching for teams, including the popular American Ted King, who’s ridden for Liquigas/Cannondale since 2011.

Sky, meanwhile, continues to bring new faces to its lineup. Other riders confirmed to join the team for 2015 include Wout Poels and Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Leopold Konig (NetApp), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin), and Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo). Confirmed departures include Edvald Boasson Hagen to MTN-Qhubeka, Joe Dombrowski to Cannondale, and Dario Cataldo to Astana.