Elia Viviani passed on his chance to race the Tour of Flanders this Sunday and let a Sky team-mate take his place. The Italian, winner of stage two on Wednesday in the Three Days of De Panne, says that he suffered in recent days.
Team Sky named their Flanders line-up yesterday with leaders Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas, and support riders Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Salvatore Puccio, Gianni Moscon, Christian Knees and Michal Golas.
“To be honest, I suffered like a dog [on Tuesday] and my morale was not the best,” Viviani told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. “In fact, after the stage one, I said to team that it was better that they appointed someone else for Flanders.”
Viviani raced Flanders in 2013 for Cannondale-Liquigas and 2015 for Sky. In the other parts year, he led Sky to sprint victories in the Tour of Britain and the Giro d’Italia. Even after winning on Wednesday ahead of Marcel Kittel (Etixx–Quick-Step), he would not change his mind about Flanders.
Watch: Tour of Flanders essential guide
“No, the result does not change things. And it wouldn’t change anything even if I won again. [Kittel won stage 3a. – ed. ] We have Kwiatkowski, who is flying, Thomas who prepared for this race, Stannard and Rowe in great shape. We have men to win the Flanders and they deserve a top team.
“You need to be realistic. Right now, I need to take a moment to breathe. I need a few days to unplug, for my head and legs, because I want to win the Scheldeprijs [on Wednesday] and race well in my first Paris-Roubaix.”
Viviani was pleased with his win, his first time to beat Kittel in a head-to-head, he said, after doing the same with Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, André Greipel, Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb and Michael Matthews. “And this Kittel is flying, he’s not the Kittel from last year.”
Sky’s manager David Brailsford explained that he is watching Mikel Landa’s progress closely after a cold forced him to miss early season races because he wants to win the race with him.
Landa, third in the Giro last year, just restarted in the Coppi e Bartali stage race. There could also be space for Viviani, who says that after Roubaix, he will unplug and aim for winning sprint stages in the Giro.