Viviani takes second in Race Melbourne
The Italian showed again his early season form, this time in the criterium that precedes the Cadel Evans Road Race, the second World Tour appointment of the year.
Race Melbourne returned after last year's inaugural edition and was held again on the 5.6km-long Albert Park Formula 1 circuit, a regular feature on the international calendar, which the riders had to cover 22 times, for a total of 116.6 kilometers. To spice up things, the race scheduled three intermediate sprints, on laps 5, 10 and 15, with points awarded to the top three to cross the line.
An early group forged clear after the opening lap, among the eight riders to make it there being also Quick-Step Floors duo Eros Capecchi and Enric Mas. The peloton reacted immediately and clawed back the attackers, before eventually allowing six other riders to break away: George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Owain Doull (Team Sky), Nathan Earle (Israel Cycling Academy), Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin), Chad Haga (Team Sunweb) and Peter Koning (Aqua Blue Sport). With the gap locked at 50 seconds, the bunch kept them in check and let the escapees fight for the intermediate points, before deciding to up the tempo 15 kilometers from the finish.
Quick-Step Floors were the main instigators of the chase, bringing all of its riders to the front and drilling the pace for Elia Viviani, one of the contenders for the win. Thanks to our team's strong efforts, the gap came tumbling down and the leading group was pegged back with two kilometers to go, opening the way for a highly-contested bunch gallop on the Albert Park circuit.
Elia Viviani launched his sprint on the right side of the road and at one point looked poised to take the victory, only to be denied in the end by Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe). For the Italian speedster, it was the second top 3 finish in the space of a week, after the convincing stage he won at Tour Down Under. Having taken another good result in Australia, Elia and the rest of the team will carry the confidence to the Cadel Evans Road Race, first one-day event of the World Tour season, set to take place this Sunday, in Geelong.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images