Elia Viviani says his career-defining switch from Team Sky to Quick-Step Floors is paying off thanks to having the full belief of his team behind him.
The Italian spent three years at Sky, but left with a year still to run on his contract.
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Last year, Viviani was overlooked for his home Grand Tour in favour of a classification-focused team built around Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa.
This year is a different story, with the Omnium Olympic champion already chalking up two Giro d’Italia stage wins for his new team.
“I always say, I never regret what I did in Team Sky,” said Viviani after taking victory in Eilat, Israel. “I spent three really great years there. But I love this team, I love how they programme everything and manage everything. And I always say that I left Team Sky because I have high goals and it’s the true moment of my career to do that.”
Viviani left during a sprinter shuffle this off-season that saw Marcel Kittel leave Quick-Step Floors for Katusha, and Alexander Kristoff leave Katusha for UAE Team Emirates.
“I saw the chance to go there when Kittel left. I’m really happy to be in Team Quick-Step now because this is the chance of my life and my career. I’m here with my group, my lead out train, and the team really believes in me,” he continued.
“They feel I’m a proper leader of the team. That makes the difference and that creates more occasions for me. I’m happy to be here and to win a lot of stages in the Grand Tours. That’s a big goal for me and my career.”
Viviani counts eight wins so far in 2018, including two in the Giro d’Italia – his first win in the Italian Grand Tour since 2015.
Everything seems to have changed for him.
“What happened? Just that I’m here with a full lead-out train. I have my group,” he continued.
“When I moved to Quick-Step, [General Manager] Patrick Lefevere saw me as a good sprinter to replace Kittel, so he gave me all of his group, Fabio Sabatini… He bought Michael Morkov for my group. And Florian Senechal… Right after the Tour Down Under, I saw he had the quality to do a lead-out and he joined me in all my races.
“This lead-out works very well and that has created more occasions for me, that’s all. My power and my sprint is always the same. Also last year, I had an amazing year with Hamburg, Plouay, I won in Romandie… really big races. Nine races.
“This year, we are ready, but it’s the group that is created around me and the responsibility they give me on my shoulders that makes the difference.”
The Giro d’Italia travels to its homeland tomorrow and restarts in Sicily on Tuesday.