FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Elia Viviani found the team he needed in Quick-Step Floors, coming to the end of the first half of the 2018 season on top with 13 wins – more than any other top-division rider.
Viviani collected four wins and the points jersey in the recent Giro d’Italia – his home grand tour – and added to that this week with two more victories in the new Adriatica Ionica Race. With those wins, he edged back ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with 11 for the 2018 season so far.
“Having scored another victory makes me very happy, and to return at the top of the most wins individual classification gives me great pride,” Viviani said on Saturday.
“The team was again brilliant, my form is good and I think we can be more than content with how the race has panned out so far for us.”
With the wins, the Italian from Veneto ensured that the Belgian WorldTour team stays well on top of the team classification. Quick-Step counts 43 victories in 2018 so far, nearly double that of Mitchelton-Scott in second with 28.
It is Viviani’s most successful season to date, and that came thanks to a team change from Sky to Quick-Step Floors where he was able to spread his wings.
Team Sky is best known for its Tour de France wins with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. It is developing others like Geraint Thomas and further down in the pipe, Colombian Egan Bernal.
Viviani found it hard to have his space. He finally got tired of trying when Team Sky left him off the Giro d’Italia team in 2017. Over the winter, he and the team came to an agreement that let him end his contract one year early to join Quick-Step, which needed someone to replace the outgoing Marcel Kittel.
Quick-Step has general classification rider Bob Jungels, but its focus is more on sprints, one-day races and week-long tours. Viviani found the team he needed, and a green light to race the Giro d’Italia while Fernando Gaviria will lead the team in the Tour de France.
“I didn’t know him well before this season, but he’s professional 101%,” Quick-Step sports director Davide Bramati explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“You don’t win the Olympic omnium by chance, and with Sky he won big races like Hamburg and Plouay. Now he has a team that, when there’s the possibility of a sprint, will put all of its weight behind him. And he’s repaying us for the effort.
“He has the right attitude, maturity and experience to manage the responsibly. Now that he has the train at his call, he has more confidence as a leader.”
Viviani will end the first part of his 2018 season with the Italian national championships next Saturday.
“I always say, I never regret what I did in team Sky,” said Viviani told VeloNews. “I spent three really great years there. I love this team, I love how they program everything and manage everything.
“I always say that I left Team Sky because I have high goals to follow and it’s the true moment of my career to do that.”
Instead of looking back, he’s trying to help Quick-Step achieve a record. The most it ever won was 61 in one season. Never has the team had so high a win count mid-season, so it is on the right track so far this year. Of a total of 43 wins, Quick-Step counts five from the Giro d’Italia as well as marquee one-day wins at the Tour of Flanders, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.