Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) said before the 2018 Giro d’Italia that taking three stage wins and the points jersey in Rome would represent a dream race for him. So, with two stage victories already in the bank, and the points jersey securely on his back, the Italian sprinter must be pinching himself to check he is actually awake.
The Giro d’Italia is barely three days old, and there are nearly three weeks of racing still to come. But with such an impressive start, Viviani has already established himself as the Giro d’Italia sprinter to beat.
In stark contrast to his triumph in the centre of Tel Aviv on Saturday during stage 2, Viviani’s second stage win came after the lengthy grind across the Negev desert on the Red Sea coastal resort town of Eilat on stage 3. It did not lack in controversy, as Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) moved sharply across the finishing straight, with Viviani swerving as a result. Viviani played down any chance of creating an early polemic in the Giro.
“As you saw on TV, he changed direction, and if this had cost me the sprint, I would have appealed to the judges. I was on the left, we always move around a little bit in sprints, but this was a clear move [by Bennett] towards the barrier,” Viviani said afterwards.
Viviani remembered a similar move in the European Championships last year that he said cost him the race. At that race in Herning, Denmark, Alexander Kristoff squeezed him close to the barriers en route to victory but was not disqualified afterwards despite Viviani’s protests.
Moving back to Eilat this May, Viviani added, “There was a point of contact, it was a moment where either I touched him, or I had to brake. So I moved a little bit, and then everything went fine.”
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