Elia Viviani humbly insisted Mark Cavendish remains the sprinter to beat in the Tour of Britain despite claiming victory in the race’s opening stage at Drumlanrig Castle this afternoon.
Viviani (Cannondale) beat Cavendish’s team-mate Alessandro Petacchi and Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) to take the win after the Manxman was boxed in in the final kilometre.
Speaking at the post-stage press conference, the 24-year-old Italian said: “I’m very happy with this win. It’s a good win for me.
“I didn’t win in Hamburg [Vattenfall Cyclassics] or [the GP Ouest] Plouay, which were my big goals for the second part of the season, and so far this season, I have finished second more times than first, and for a sprinter this is no good. Today, after six hours, it was a difficult sprint, it was not flat. To take first position was my perfect reward.
“I think for the next stages Cav is the sprinter to fear. In the Giro, I was second twice behind Cav. He’s the best sprinter in the world when’s he’s in perfect form – he’s impossible to battle with.
“I’m a very young sprinter, and I want to take a big victory in the next year, and I hope that comes in the Giro [d’Italia].”
Viviani claimed the first IG gold leader’s jersey by virtue of his win, but admitted he expects to lose it in Tuesday’s 16-kilometre time trial at the latest.
“Tonight I will look at the specific route for tomorrow, but for sure it is not possible for me to keep the jersey in the time trial. My focus is to take more wins when it is possible – to win in London is my focus.”