The Italian took victory on the first road stage of the Giro d'Italia in Israel

Elia Viviani began the Giro d’Italia with “so much pressure” as sprint leader for Quick-Step Floors, but already released the valve with stage two victory in Tel Aviv.

Team Sky let Elia Viviani out of his contract at the end of 2017 to have a chance to ride for stage wins in the 2018 Giro d’Italia and other opportunities that he was not having in a super-team with Chris Froome.

The Belgian Quick-Step Floors team signed him and supported him with a Giro d’Italia team concentrated on the sprints.

“There’s a positive side to come to the Giro d’Italia with the team all for the sprints, without the classification men, but so much pressure on my back,” Viviani said.

“I’m proud, happy, but for sure, I have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. It’s what I wanted, though.”

When Sky overlooked Viviani for the 2017 Giro team, with leaders Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, Viviani looked elsewhere. Now, he has one of the few sprint teams in the race. Sky this year lines up with Chris Froome as its leader.

The pressure had been building for the Italian sprinter in 2018. He began with a strong start, but lost a big opportunity in Ghent-Wevelgem when Quick-Step took control only to have Peter Sagan come through the back door to beat its new sprinter.

“I hoped to be successful. We started in the best way possible. I already have seven wins, that’s also because I have a big team behind me and they believed in me from the first days of 2018,” he continued.

“You see the entire team around me for the lead out, like the Giro days when Alessandro Petacchi or Mario Cipollini went to the Giro with the full train. I’m really proud of this.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to start with a little bit less pressure and then try to win again. I want to win s much as possible. I broke the ice today. I’d also like to win in Rome, when the Giro ends, Imola, Nervesa della Battaglia, also tomorrow in Eilat.

“I’m going to try to win two, three or four times, whatever it is, and try to take this ciclamino jersey to Rome. The Giro is long, but there are many hurdles. I’m going to take it by day by day to Rome.”