Italy have not had a male world track champion since 1997, but Team Sky's Elia Viviani hopes to end the 18-year wait in the omnium

Elia Viviani heads to the UCI Track World Championships with two goals in mind: qualifying for the Olympic Games and ending Italy’s 18-year wait for a male world champion.

Silvio Martinello was the last Italian to pull on the rainbow stripes in 1997, but Viviani is confident of success in the omnium this weekend.

The Team Sky sprinter, who won a stage of the recent Dubai Tour, has been keeping himself busy on the track over the winter, winning the European Championships title in October and participating in the Revolution Series.

And the Italian says the increased importance of the final points race in this year’s omnium may play into his favour, but isn’t keen on being labelled the favourite.

“Yes, the redistribution of the six events has done me a favour but that doesn’t mean I’m the favourite,” Viviani told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The European Championships aren’t the Worlds. Above all, for me it’s important to score important points for Olympic qualification. But I won’t hold back. I always race to win.

“The scratch race is the day before the omnium begins and I didn’t think it was wise to take risks, because going to the Olympics is too important.”