The Associated Press NANCY, France (AP) — Elia Viviani had left the Giro d’Italia utterly disappointed.
Two months later, the Italian rider left bitterness and his sprinting rivals in his wake to claim his first career stage win in the Tour de France after storming a bunch sprint on Tuesday with an impressive display of power and speed.
The 30-year-old track specialist, arguably the fastest man in the peloton this season, had left his home race empty-handed in May under controversial circumstances.
Viviani, who has now posted stage wins at all three Grand Tours, was stripped of a victory in Italy after the race jury ruled he had irregularly changed his line and blocked an opponent in the sprint.
There was no such hiccup on the finish line in the eastern city of Nancy, and Viviani was clearly the best.
The 2016 omnium Olympic champion was ideally set up by the Deceuninck-Quick Step leadout train in the finale and made the most of the slight uphill finish to prevail. Viviani edged Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan, claiming the fourth stage of the three-week race.
“It means a lot. Probably I can’t believe it. It was a big goal of the year,” said Viviani, who dedicated his win to his fiancee and parents.
The 213.5-kilometer flat route from Reims to Nancy did not pose any major difficulty and was a perfect opportunity for sprinters to get a stage win, a day after Viviani’s teammate Julian Alaphilippe seized the yellow jersey with a solo effort.
“My father and mother were on the finish line today, they were set to leave yesterday but finally decided to stay because the stage was for sprinters,” Viviani said.
Alaphilippe, the first Frenchman to wear yellow in five years, kept the overall lead, with no change at the top of the overall standings. Both men hugged warmly after their team produced a second straight stage win.
“I just need to thank the team, they were really unbelievable,” Viviani said.