The first year professional, who shone brightly in the U23 ranks before being snapped up by Astana, has enjoyed a smooth transition into the pro ranks and will line-up as one of Vincenzo Nibali’s most valued support riders.
“At the beginning of the season the directors gave me a schedule of races that were all worked up to point at the Giro, but after that I had to go out and earn my spot. All my placings at these races were all part of earning this Giro spot, and I feel really confident that I have done just that,” Aru told Cyclingnews from his home in Sardinia before heading to Naples for the start of he Giro.
Aru started well this year with a notable performance on one of the hardest stages at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, pacing Nibali during stage 6, before pushing ahead and leaving his leader once he’d been given the nod to ride his own race.
From there Aru built on his promising start before netting fourth and the white jersey in the Giro del Trentino, a race Nibali won.
“Trentino was really important, because after racing at Tirreno-Adriatico and our training camp at Tenerife, it was a chance to test my condition in the same peloton that is headed for the Giro. In the end I was really happy with that race, because the team was so good around me, we really held it together, and because everything went well.”
With those results under his belt and a growing sense of confidence, Aru has turned his attention to the biggest challenge yet.
“This is really significant, because the Giro, for an Italian, is the most important race in the world. We're all really motivated to work for a captain like Nibali, who is on his own really strong, and for whom we can all fully get behind.”
“The team's expectations are for Vincenzo to go for victory, to try and find it on the road and keep it. For this reason everybody in the squad, from the riders to the staff, has been chosen with this in mind.”
Astana has put all their eggs in Nibali’s basket and Aru will be well aware of the expectation on his shoulders. Since signing to the team he and Nibali have become closer, developing their bond of leader and young domestique. Aru is consider a future heir to Nibali's crown.
“We have become close colleagues this season, and he has done a lot to get to know me and my strengths as a rider who can help him. The primary goal is to get Vincenzo into the maglia rosa. That's number one from the start - anything else is just extra.”