Elia Viviani won stage one of the Tour of Austria in Vienna on Monday, taking the sprint victory on a day affected by crashes and crosswinds.
Viviani has been at the centre of speculation in the past month that he may be ready to leave Team Sky, and this victory in Austria was for the Italian national team rather than for his trade squad, who are absent from the UCI 2.1-ranked event.
A large crash in the final 30km of the 193.8km stage from Graz to Vienna saw the peloton whittled down to around 30 riders.
Viviani sprinted ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) in second and Jason Lowndes (Israel Cycling Academy) in third.
“The last 50 kilometres were extremely difficult because of the wind,” Viviani said. “But it was a fantastic final for me. A victory here in Vienna is something special.”
Belgian Vanmarcke now takes the overall race lead, having placed fifth in Sunday’s opening time trial prologue behind winner Oscar Gatto (Astana).
Vanmarcke leads team-mate William Clarke by three seconds, with Markus Eibegger (Felbermayr-Simplon Wells) in third at five seconds. Viviani moves up to fifth overall at nine seconds.
The seven-day Tour of Austria concludes on Saturday, July 8. Last year’s race was won by Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).