Elia Viviani has done ‘everything in his power’ to return to the INEOS Grenadiers – and is delighted to have signed a three-year deal that will take him through to the end of 2024 and the Paris Olympics.
“From the moment I left the team, I had in my head that one day I would come back – and now that day has come and I couldn’t be happier,” said Viviani.
“In my years away, I’ve never lost contact with the team – with Dave [Brailsford], Rod [Ellingworth], and with the Italian riders and coaches. I am really good friends with lots of the team members and especially Dave. I never missed an opportunity to speak with him at races about cycling, my team, my season, and this team. This feels like coming back to a family for me.”
In his time away from the team, Viviani won eight Grand Tour stages, including his maiden Tour de France stage in 2019. But the 32 year old has incredibly fond memories of winning races with the team including his first-ever Grand Tour stage win as a Team Sky rider at the 2015 Giro d’Italia.
“In my final year with the team in 2017 I won nine races, including Hamburg and Plouay. I also won my first Giro d’Italia stage in my first year in the team. That was a dream goal for me and it was thanks to this team that I won. It really feels like I can start again from that point.
“Next year the goal is to win as many races as I can because that’s the job of a sprinter. But I can also support the young group of Grenadiers and pass on my experience. I hope I can be an example to follow and an experienced guy around the incredibly talented young group that is being built.”
Viviani won Olympic track Gold in the omnium in 2016, dovetailing his road and track ambitions with the support of the team. It’s that level of support that is a major factor in his return to the team, as he looks ahead to Paris.
“My deal takes me to Paris 2024. I realised how important the Olympics are to me this year and I am privileged to be in a team that will support me. I look at how Filippo [Ganna] was able to perform on the road for the team this year and on the track in Tokyo. I also remember Rio 2016 like it was yesterday, and how the team helped me then too. That Gold medal also partly belonged to this team.
“I’ve had a tough two years and the Olympics gave me back what I’ve missed – the legs, confidence, conviction and belief in myself. My Bronze medal this year has given me the belief to step up to my level again.
“I think this is the best place for me to be at this stage in my career. I’ve done everything I can to come back and I feel proud as a person that I left on good terms and left something good here. Now that’s paid off.”