Sunday, 05 December 2021 01:57 GMT

UAE- Nothing can match being Olympic champion, says Viviani


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Elia Viviani may have a half-century of victories and stage wins across eight years of his professional career as a cyclist, but one event in the summer of 2016 altered the Italian's life.
That day in Rio de Janeiro changed everything for Viviani who went from being known as a top sprinter to an Olympic champion.
Becoming an Olympic champion is every sportsman or sportswomen's dream and Viviani rekindled that after putting aside the heartbreak of 2012, where he missed out by a whisker.
And no matter whatever he goes on to accomplish during the rest of his career, Viviani said nothing can match the Olympic gold that he won in the men's omnium.
"It is the biggest win of my life," Viviani, who celebrates turning 29 on Wednesday, said during a chat.
Viviani, who has racked up five gold medals in the European Track Championships, said that winning an Olympic medal, elevated him into a different sphere and made him an overnight celebrity back home in Italy.
"When you win an Olympic gold medal, you go out of your sport. It is not all about cycling. The Olympic medal is all about all sports. It is a goal every sportsperson has, football or tennis, or swimming," he said.
"The Olympics is really big and the people know you on the road and in Italy for sure. I'm one of the eight gold medal winners and just eight people in the whole of Italy won a gold medal. So, all the people know me now, not just the cycling fans. That is the main difference," added Viviani.
And the stage winner at the 2015 Giro d'Italia is already plotting a repeat 30 months from now. The next summer Olympics will be in Tokyo.
"I really want to go quickly in Tokyo," he said.
Viviani made the switch from Team Sky to Quick-Step Floors this season after the spot opened up following Marcel Kittel's departure to Team Katusha Alpecin.
And he already announced his arrival with a stage win at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia. Viviani said that it wasn't difficult adapting to a new team and felt right at ease.
"It was really easy for me to join team Quick-Step Floors because it is a sprint mentality team and I really enjoy that. So, all the riders you see around me and I'm the leader of the team and that feeling is really good for a rider. It is easier for me to try and win a stage when I have six people around me, always riding to help me. So, the change was really easy for me," Viviani said.
"When you have one team all around you, it is always easier. The feeling with the team is really good. We spent a good amount of time in Australia. Now, we are doing this race and Abu Dhabi in a few weeks. I don't do Oman because I already have a lot of race in the legs and I need to rest a little bit in the middle between this race and Abu Dhabi. I'm back for Abu Dhabi and it is a good part of the world to spend time in this period, with good weather," he added.
And Viviani hopes for more wins racing in the new colours. "This season, I expect to win a lot. I changed teams and I have gone to a team that can help me a lot more than the last few years and I hope that can make the difference. I have never won more than nine races in a season and I really want to win 10 or more. So, maybe, this is a good year to do that," said Viviani, whose schedule includes 100 race days for the season.

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