Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) was in the thick of the action in the sprints at the Surf Coast Classic but had to accept defeat once again, with Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) passing him just before the finish line. Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech) took the final spot on the podium.
The 34-year-old Italian was second on stage 3 of the Tour Down Under to Campbelltown and seems to have rediscovered his sprinting speed after a disappointing 2023. Only Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe) beat him on stage 3 at the Tour Down Under, as the Australian scooped up his second of three wins.
“It was a good day out but I’m a bit disappointed. When you lose in the last 50 metres, you can’t be happy about that,” Viviani said just beyond the finish line.
“I knew it was a tailwind sprint and so I waited until 200 metres to go and then I went and played my cards. In the last 50 metres, I saw Girmay’s wheel coming up next to me. I tried to hang on and stay ahead but he pipped me on the line.
Viviani was especially disappointed not to finish off the excellent leadout work of his teammates.
“The guys did an amazing job. Swifty, [Ben Swift], [Filippo] Ganna and Josh Tarling were perfect and I wanted to win and pay them back for the job done. It’s not often I enjoy a great lead out like that, that doesn’t happen often in races in any team.
“With a lead out I can still have a chance at winning races, because I’m still fast in sprints,” Viviani argued.
He won the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in 2019 and is hoping his form and excellent lead out can help him on Sunday in the WorldTour event.
Viviani will then stay in Australia to ride the track World Cup in Adelaide. He won a gold medal in the Omnium at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and bronze in Tokyo. He is the honorary leader of the Italian track team due to his success and experience and hopes to take another medal in Paris this summer. He could then retire from road racing after a 14-year career at WorldTour level.
“If I need to lose today to win on Sunday, that’s okay. It’s a good sign for Sunday,” Vivani said, trying to find something positive from defeat and be optimistic for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
“As a team we have a few options, it’s not all on my shoulders. We’ll do another big training ride on Friday and do a recon of the course, particularly the final circuit, and then we’ll rest up for Sunday.”