Viviani tightens grip on Giro d’Italia points classification
The 29-year-old finished second in Praia a Mare, where stage seven concluded.
Elia Viviani extended his lead in the maglia ciclamino standings, which he tops since last Saturday, despite coming runner-up on Friday's 159km-stage, a quiet one that took the riders from Pizzo to Praia a Mare, a town last visited by the caravan at the 2016 edition, when the course was completely different, more suited to puncheurs than sprinters, as was the case now.
Three men slipped away in the opening kilometers and built a 3:30-lead over the peloton, but once Rémi Cavagna moved to the head of proceedings the gap stabilized, as the 22-year-old led the peloton for over 100 kilometers, bringing back the escapees with 15 kilometers. After the relentless Frenchmann peeled off the front, former maglia bianca Max Schachmann took over and closed down a five-man move which emerged over the top of a short unclassified climb.
As was the case with the previous bunch finishes, in Israel, this too was a chaotic one, with several teams fighting for positioning inside the last five kilometers, which included a few tight corners. Escorted by his teammates, Elia Viviani moved towards the front two kilometers from the line and with 500 meters to go he took the wheel of Sacha Modolo (EF Education First), before opening his sprint.
The Italian led until the final 50 meters, when Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) overtook him, but held on for second place, a result which saw him increase the advantage he enjoys in the points classification, one of his goals at the Giro d'Italia.
"It was another crazy sprint and we used a lot of energy to move up. Bennett was always on my wheel and he had the upper hand in those last 50 meters, where there was some wind which made it trickier. I'm sad for not taking my third win, but I am looking to the full half of the glass, which is the important points I bagged today at the intermediate sprint and the finish. The boys were again amazing, did a fantastic job and this defeat will only motivate us for the next challenge", said Elia Viviani after the last flat stage of the opening week.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images