Wednesday 11th September 2019
The sprinters of 2019 includes some promising names which are likely to dominate for years to come. But there's a particular Italian whose palmares are likely to make the future cohort of sprinting look on in envy. Including a stage win across all the Grand Tours and being crowned European Champion this year, Elia Viviani can never be underestimated in any sprint to the line. He's moving teams after this season, until then, he has the SixDay London (22nd - 27th October at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) to contend with. We caught up with Elia to discuss his track career, his move from Deceuninck-QuickStep to Cofidis and if it's ok to attack mates whilst they're eating?!...
Hi Elia. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and it’s a privilege to grab a chat with a TDF stage winner! So you’ve been confirmed to ride this year’s SixDay London in London. After the year you’ve had which has included a TDF stage win, the London-Surrey Classic and becoming European Road Race Champion, did you not fancy 6 days of sleep rather than racing?!
So, NO, as everyone knows I love to race on the track, I really enjoy the atmosphere of the six days and from a few years ago, I wanted to race the London one. This year the week of London 6Days fits really well in my race schedule, in the middle of track Europeans and the first world cup, it’s just perfect, I can arrive there with a good shape and for sure I want to try to win.
You might agree (he doesn't - our bad!) that your pedigree on the track outweighs your accolades on the road. Has the track always been your natural playground or has road taken over as your main passion?
I don’t agree with that, in the last two years I won a lot on the road and I always end the season in the best 10 riders of the world, so that means my road pedigree is high right now. To be honest I can say the Olympic gold medal is the best victory of my career but it’s the only track result I can put on the top of the road victories. The road took over the track after Rio. I will probably focus back to the track but just in the month before the Olympics.
With coming from road to track for SixDay London, what would you say is the easiest and most difficult aspects to carry across the disciplines?
I’m really happy with the dates of London 6Days this year because around 20th September I will end my road season, that means I have one month to prepare the for the track events. In London, I will have already passed all the difficult aspects needed for the jump from road to track. If we want to talk about the difficult aspects, at the end of the road season I jump on the track bike, I have a lot of resistance in my legs. I’m really powerful on endurance races like the point race or Madison but I suffer a lot from rhythm changes and accelerations, in the flying lap or team pursuit for example.
We have had a taster session at the London Velodrome and it was an eye opener and we forgot how to brake and nearly had an intimate meeting with the floorboards. What has been the most embarrassing or scariest moment during your track career?
I think riding on the track is a pure fun, without brakes and with a fixed gear, you will improve your bike skills and you will focus a lot on your cadence speed, the track make your legs faster. The most embarrassing moment of my track career was in 2002, I was 13 years old, probably my second track race ever. I won a sprint but straight after, I just stopped pedalling, you can imagine what a jump I made in front of my bike, I felt really ridiculous.
Do you have a favourite velodrome you enjoy racing at and why?
Montichiari Velodrome, close to Brescia. It’s the only indoor velodrome we have in Italy, inside that velodrome I made all my biggest track results. Only the wood of this velodrome knows really how many sacrifices I have made and how much you suffer in training to reach the top in each race, so it’s a special home for me that velodrome.
Looking ahead to next year already, you’re changing teams for the road season. Do you mind us asking what were the main factors in moving to Cofidis seeing how successful Quickstep has been over the recent years?
I know that looks strange to everyone, but how many top sprinters do you see leave that team in the top of their career? A lot, so that’s the team of the dream for every sprinter. Patrick is a top manager, he’s smart and super good to have always found new young talent, he'd have a fixed budget like the most of the team and he needs to stay inside of this, so with all these big name in that team, someone need to leave. Unlucky this year was my turn but also Gilbert, Mas and Richeze's turn, that’s the market. I thank the team from the manager to every single part of the team because they are magic. I chose the Cofidis team because they always showed interested on me, they proposed to me a great project and they're building a strong group around me, that’s what I learn in Quick Step, without a strong group around you everything is harder. So I’m super happy with the teammates I will have with me next year, it will be a nice challenge.
Obviously, every racer has their bucket list of races to win. What’s the one race you’d be happy to retire on if you won it tomorrow?
Milan - Sanremo.
If you had to pick 4 riders (past or present) for a dream team track team, who would it be? You can’t pick yourself!
Wiggins - Lasse Norman Hansen - Clancy - Morkov
Can you see yourself ever becoming a DS or a track coach and what sort of leader would you be?
I don’t know what to expect from the future, I like the track circus and also the DS is a role I like, but also a possible role within the bike industry. We will see.
Final question. We usually ride with 2 very fast guys (Sam and Chris if you two are reading) and because they’re pretty quick, we try to jump them when they’re taking a gel or just chatting, that’s ok yeah? Because if Elia Viviani says it’s ok, I’ll keep doing it and if you don’t agree, I’ll probably still do it anyway!
It’s super OK, race is a race and you need to be smartest not just strongest, do it again!
Well if Elia think it's ok...! Thank you for your time and all the best with SixDay London and with Cofidis next season.