Elia Viviani says he “couldn’t be happier” after returning to Ineos Grenadiers on a three-year deal.
The sprinter has had spells with Deceuninck-QuickStep and Cofidis after racing for Ineos between 2015-2017.
In his time away from Ineos he won eight Grand Tour stages, including his maiden Tour de France stage in 2019, but says he always hoped to return.
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“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.
“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 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's deal will take him through to the end of 2024 and the Paris Olympics.
Omar Fraile has also signed for Ineos Grenadiers on a two-year contract starting from January 2022.
The Basque rider is a climbing and breakaway specialist and has twice won the mountains classification at the Vuelta a Espana, having also won stages at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
This year he won at the Spanish National Road Race Championships, and his efforts have been rewarded with a contract at one of the biggest names in cycling.
“Ineos has always been the team that you dream of riding for," said Fraile. "It’s always been the team that I’ve looked at and wanted to race for.
It’s a team where you see the riders really working together as a team, and that’s what I really enjoy doing, being there and working for my teammates.
"I think it’s going to be a good fit, and I’m really looking forward to working with everyone."
He is currently a rider with World Team Astana-Premier Tech, and outsprinted his rivals this year to win at the Spanish National Road Race Championships after a hilly 183km route.
“My win at the Spanish National Championships this year was one that I worked really hard for. Normally I’m always the one working hard for my teammates, so when you have the chance to raise your arms and cross that finish line first, it’s always going to be super special,” Fraile says.
“To then have the opportunity to wear your national champs kit for the next season, that’s pretty special and rewarding too.”
But when asked which victory he values most, Fraile is quick to respond: “My stage victory in the Tour de France is the one I am most proud of, it’s the kind of victory you dream about when you’re a kid.
"Every cyclist knows how special that race is,” he says. “But when I think of other victories I’ve had, winning at Itzulia [Basque Country], my home race, in front of my family and friends, that's something you don’t forget either.”
Fraile has an accomplished CV for his individual accomplishments, but it was his efforts as part of a team that caught the eye of Ineos' deputy team principal, Rod Ellingworth.
“Omar is a rider that has been on our radar for a while,¨ he said. "He has shown time and again his versatility as a bike racer and his willingness to help and show unwavering support to his teammates.
"An attitude that fits so well with the Ineos Grenadiers’ ethos. We’re excited to have him on board for the coming season, I think he will be a great fit for the team.”
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