Elia Viviani: Buon Compleanno.
Elia’s celebrating his 24th birthday today and one or two of you might be saying Elia who? Quite understandable as his achievements on the track and road tend to have been overshadowed by his better known teammates Peter Sagan and Moreno Moser. But, with his track ambitions on the back burner after London 2012, who knows what Elia might achieve in 2013? Let’s have a look at the scores on the doors to date.
Wins on the road, but yet to beat the best sprinters
Hailing from Verona, Elia started cycling back in 1998 and initially combined it with other sports such as football, ice skating and tennis. As he racked up the victories – 40 from 1998 to 2001 – he turned towards cycling. Further success followed, as he recorded 80 wins in the junior ranks before moving up to the under-23s. A further 12 victories in some prestigious races and he joined the professional ranks with Liquigas-Doimo in April 2010.
He debuted at the Tour of Turkey, where he quickly broke his professional duck, with further victories following in the Memorials Marco Pantani and Frank Vandenbroucke. His winning ways continued into 2011, with victory at the GP Costa degli Etruschi in February followed the next week by victory over pocket rocket Robbie McEwen (RadioShack) in India and later a pair of stages plus the points classification at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He rounded off the season with a win in the inaugural Tour of Beijing.
Elia was quickly off the mark in the 2012 season, winning a sprint at the Tour de San Luis. He then successfully defended a chilly and foreshortened GP Costa degli Etruschi, followed a few days later by two stages and the overall of the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria.
2012 was a difficult season in which he had to balance his ambitions on the track versus the road. Injury cost He him a place in his first Giro d’Italia, but he was part of Paolo Bettini’s squad in the Olympic road race where he finished 38th. He then headed to his maiden Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana, where he recorded four podiums but couldn’t find the speed to get round John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano). He closed out the year with another stage win at the Tour of Beijing, after which he was somewhat bemused to see himself alongside world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic on billboards around Beijing.
On the track – plenty of gold, silverware and bronze
I think it’s fair to say that to date he’s had greater success on the track than on the road, particularly at the national and European level. Victory at the Worlds has proven more elusive.
Elia won his first national championship in 2005 as part of the under-16 team pursuit squad. At junior level in the following two years, he added four national titles, wins in the scratch and points races at the European championships and a pair of bronze medals at the Worlds in the Madison (2006) and team pursuit (2007).
He moved up to the elite category in 2008, winning a gold and two silvers at the Italian nationals, plus two under-23 European golds (scratch and Madison). Over the next three years he went from strength to strength, padding out his palmares with back-to-back national omnium and team pursuit titles in 2009 and 2010 and a gold at the Europeans in the under-23 points race. At senior level, he added silver in the scratch at the 2011 Worlds.
In 2012 at the Melbourne World Cup, in attempting to qualify for the London Olympics he fell and was forced to retire. He did however manage to gain his Olympic qualification at the World Cup event in London. At London 2012, he took part in the omnium. He was lying second overall after the elimination race, the third of the six events, but ninth place in the kilo saw him drop back to sixth overall.
Is he a sprinter or could he develop into a Classics rider like Bettini – one of his biggest fans? Only time will tell, but keep a look out for him starting with Milan-San Remo in March.