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Viviani’s Wevelgem tears marked a turning point

Viviani sets sights on Sanremo and Tour in 2019 in a build to Olympic defense.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Elia Viviani’s tears after losing the 2018 Gent-Wevelgem marked a turning point.

Afterward, the sprinter led his new Quick-Step Floors team to Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España stage wins and the Italian national championship title. He confirmed he made the right step leaving Team Sky one year early.

“With those spontaneous tears after the second place at the Gent-Wevelgem behind Sagan … A new Elia was born there because I understood how much I care for this work and sport is for me,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I made a step up in quality [in 2018] and the goals will always be higher. The next two seasons will be the most important. The 2019 season because I go to look for the big classics I lack, Milano-Sanremo or Gent-Wevelgem, and 2020 because I want the Omnium title again in the Olympics.”

He stopped and began crying in Wevelgem after losing to Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Super-team Quick-Step Floors had a numerical advantage with Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar, and Yves Lampaert. It bet on the sprint, but Sagan snuck by in the last meters.

Viviani repaid the team at home. The team gave him its full support in the Giro d’Italia, something he could not have when racing for Team Sky. He won four stages and everything seemed to change.

For 2019, Viviani wants to make another step ahead in the classics and the Tour de France.

“It’s my main goal to win Milano-Sanremo in 2019. It’s probably the only monument I can win, so I’m going to work very hard to get there,” he told Sporza after winning the Gent Six-Day with Iljo Keisse on Sunday.

“It’s a strange race, you can feel very good and all of a sudden you can be finished with 10 kilometers to go, that’s what happened to me this year. I was ready to sprint for the second place [behind a solo Vincenzo Nibali]. I pushed the pedals and suddenly I had no legs, which is not so surprising after nearly 300 kilometers of racing.”

The Italian monument is scheduled for March 23 in 2019. Gent-Wevelgem comes one week later.

Colombian Fernando Gaviria gave Quick-Step Floors a day in the yellow jersey and won two stages this summer in the Tour de France. Now that he is signed with UAE Team Emirates for 2019, Viviani’s path is clearer towards a Tour debut.

“On the one hand, I would like to be on the Giro with the Italian champion’s jersey, and there is an arrival in my region [Veneto],” said Viviani. “On the other hand, it’s the right time to do the Tour as Fernando is no longer with us and with the departure from Brussels, and I’m in a Belgian team. I lack a Tour win on my list of victories.”

Viviani is also aiming for the 2020 Olympics, where he wants to defend his Omnium title in Tokyo. He is also racing the upcoming Berlin and London World Cups with the Italian pursuit team to give himself another possibility in the Olympics.