For the first time since its inception, the team has reached this milestone before the National Championships.
Elia Viviani didn't lose any time in making Adriatica Ionica the fifth different stage race in which he scored a win this season, after Tour Down Under, Dubai Tour, Abu Dhabi Tour and the Giro d'Italia, dashing to a clear victory in Maser, where the 152.5km-long stage which started from Lido di Jesolo's Piazza Brescia concluded after an action-packed final.
Only three riders – Matteo Draperi (Sangemini-MG.Kvis), Enrico Logica (Biesse Carrera) and Javier Montoya (Trevigiani Phonix) – decided to spend the day in the breakaway and it didn't took too long before they carved out a hefty lead of four minutes, that the trio managed to keep intact even after cresting Montello (2.8km, 6.5%), the first climb on the route, which came 70 kilometers into the stage.
Victorious on the opening stage, Quick-Step Floors marshaled the front of the peloton and began chewing into the leaders' advantage, clawing back considerable ground by the time they left behind the second classified ascent. The escapees were pegged back before the hilly circuit revolving around the Asolo hill and attacks came with ten kilometers to go, when Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) and Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) opened a ten-second gap which they carried onto the fast descent to Maser.
Unfortunately for our team, the stage wasn't an incident-free one, as neo-pros Kasper Asgreen, James Knox – best young rider at the start of the day – and Jhonatan Narvaez crashed and lost minutes, dropping from the top 10 overall. The Dane finished the stage with few bruises on the elbow and shoulder and a wound on the chin, which needed a few stitches, but the strong 22-year-old neo-pro will start on Friday despite this setback.
The catch was made under the flamme rouge arch, thanks also to a superb effort of Niki Terpstra, and Elia Viviani measured his sprint perfectly and put in a rapid acceleration, beating Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) and Mihkel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy) for Quick-Step Floors' 40th victory since the start of the season. Thursday's result helped the Italian maintain his leadership in the general classification, while at the same time netting him the points jersey ahead of the race's queen stage, to Passo Giau.
"We got the best possible start in Adriatica Ionica! Yesterday we were really flying, close to averaging 55km/h on the TTT. The guys have done an amazing job in Lido di Jesolo and today was the same story. There was a question mark tagged to this stage, as we weren't sure I would be there after the final 1.7km climb, but in the end I survived and was felt well enough to do the sprint."
Viviani, who has amassed 11 victories since joining Quick-Step Floors before the start of the season, was full of praise for his teammates: "Asgreen and Martinelli did an amazing job pulling all day in the front and keeping things under control. Then, in the final kilometers, Niki supported me perfectly and in the sprint I just jumped on the wheel of Consonni and used him to launch my sprint."
"I have recovered well after the Giro d'Italia and am really pleased with my season and this 11th victory. Every next win is a personal record and I have no intention of stopping here. Also for the team it's been a fantastic season, with 40 UCI victories in total, and we are keen on keeping the focus in the second part of the year and continue adding more wins to this extraordinary tally", Viviani concluded after becoming the most successful rider of the season.
Photo credit: ©BettiniPhoto