Elia Viviani: Sprinting problems are in my head, not my legs

The Italian says it has been a mental struggle more than physical as he leaves the Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) leaves the Giro d'Italia blaming his head more than his legs after missing his last sprint opportunity before a brutal week and a half in the mountains.

The Italian champion who won four stages in the Giro d'Italia last year, came up empty handed in 2019. On Wednesday when the riders sped into Novi Ligure, Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) passed the line first with Viviani in fourth.

"I am not at peace," Viviani said. "In the race it's clear that something is wrong.

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"Three second places, a fourth place and a victory not victory, they can't satisfy me, the team and I were aiming for much more."

Viviani blamed his head more than his legs and longed for his sprint train with Michael Mørkøv.

"In these 10 days, I've heard of them all, it's not a question of condition, but more of a head," he added. "I don't do my sprint, but I jump here and there, following the others.

"In the train I miss Mørkøv, with my team-mates we try and we lost our way, in the end the sprints didn't go as we would've like. We don't usually approach sprints like this, and there is a lack of security. I have to pull away a bit to start again and to win again."

With the Tour de France on his schedule and a tough haul ahead with only one sprint stage, Viviani had to decide to leave early.

"You say he has the Tour de France a but he is on the long list and we need to decide what we are going to do," sports director Rik Van Slycke said.

"We will see and we will analyse. Next week there is another stage and maybe we'll go for that one. We will analyse tonight and see what he says and then make a conclusion."

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), winner of two stages in this Giro d'Italia, is also leaving the race. Many sprinters typically pull the plug with the Giro offering little for them in the second half or last week.

"At the moment, you have guys with better legs and a bit stronger than him," Van Slycke added.

"Nothing wrong just we have a few contenders to have the two per cent extra explosively and he is it missing now. Even with the little bit less legs you can still win, though."

Viviani rode the three weeks in the 2018 Giro and won the points competition.

"It is difficult to say if he isn't [in the same form as 2018]," explained Van Slycke. "Maybe yes, but last year there were two sprinters and this year there four or five. Maybe that is a difference."

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