Viviani wraps Dubai Tour with stage, race win
Olympic champion Elia Viviani left nothing to chance by scoring his second stage win to close the 2018 Dubai Tour with the overall victory …
With a quick kick, Viviani avoided a two-rider crash in a hard right turn with 500 metres to go to take the line over his nearest rivals Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin) and Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport).
“It was not about defence today, two seconds is nothing, eight seconds is nothing,” Viviani told Eurosport. “Too [many] tactics to defend, so from [last night] we are thinking we need to do our best job and our best leadout for best position. We know I’m in good shape, so we go for stage win and if we finish second or third, we will see after the finish line, but finally everything going well.
“[Fabio] Sabatini did an amazing job in the last 3km because we split a little bit the team because it’s not easy to stay all together in a chaotic finish like that one. He did a really good job, so we closed the gap on four guys with 300m to go and then it’s my turn.
“I feel one year older,” admitted Viviani, who now has three stage wins dating back to the Tour Down Under in January and a race win on the season. “But I’m pretty happy with two stages and the GC win this week.”
Another top story on the final day was that of French track champion-turned-road cyclist Quentin Valognes of Team Novo Nordisk. The 21-year-old known affectionally as ‘Red Bull’ due to a combination of hair colour and build, claimed the final intermediate sprint jersey after animating the race and winning valuable sprint points along the way.
Although Valognes, who races for the world’s only professional sports team composed of athletes with Type 1 diabetes, garnered his sprint points after spending to two extended days in the break including the finale, he credits his team for what team owner Phil Southerland claims is the “best stage race” performance in team history.
“Two? No, five. Five day in breakaway from the Team Novo Nordisk,” corrected Valognes regarding the other days his teammates spent in the break including Frenchman Charles Planet and Australian Chris Williams. “All the team try. It’s an awesome spirit, it’s just good to be here and an honour to be a member of this team.
“There are two sides, there is a cycling side which of course is good for confidence. We know that we can play with the big teams also, so this is very good, very important,” added the author of ‘Diabetes: Teammate for Life’ (French title: ‘Diab, un ami pour la vie’).
“The second side is also our mission next to biking is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes,” Valognes continued. “And by this kind of performance, … we are changing diabetes and completing our mission — it’s incredible and touching our hearts.
However it was not all good news for Novo Nordisk as two team members went down inside the opening kilometres of action when they were inadvertently sent into the wrong lane by officials. Williams suffered a fractured ankle.
“X-rays confirmed a fracture to his right ankle,” team doctor Peter Lagrou reported to Eurosport after the race. “We are waiting for a follow-up evaluation to determine if it will require surgery.
“Additionally, he required stitches on his upper right leg,” the official statement read. “The plan is for him to be transferred home tomorrow and then we will re-evaluate him.”