Fabio Aru (Astana) took advantage of Vincenzo Nibali's absence from the presentation of the 2015 Giro d'Italia presentation to stake his claim for the role of Astana team leader next year's Corsa Rosa.
Encouraged by his entourage, Aru was not afraid to take centre-stage next to Alberto Contador as the possible contenders posed for photographs together. He confirmed that he will ride the Giro d'Italia in 2015.
Aru had a break through season this year, winning his first professional race when he won the mountain stage to Montecampione at the Giro d'Italia. He then finished third overall and confirmed his Grand Tour talent by winning two stages at the Vuelta a España and finishing fifth overall. While Nibali became a household name in Italy by winning the Tour de France, Aru showed he is the next big thing in Italian stage racing and could soon challenge Nibali's reign.
The Astana team will only officially decide their leadership strategy after a November get together but Aru is likely to be team leader for the Giro d'Italia, with Nibali supporting him, before they perhaps switch roles for the Tour de France.
“I'll be at the start of the Giro and that's pleasing for me,” Aru said.
“Me and Vincenzo have a great relationship but it's the team that decides things. If we're both at the start of the Giro d'Italia, I think it's good for Italian cycling. It'd be good for both of us. I don't think there are problems for us both to ride the Giro. The team will decide our final programmes in November when we get together.”
Despite the 59.2km time trial stage, Aru insisted he liked the route of the 2015 Giro d'Italia, picking the stage over the Colle delle Finestre to Sestriere as his favourite mountain stage of the race.
“As an Italian it's always emotional to be at the Giro presentation,” he said. “The route looks great. There are some tough stages, an early one in Liguria with 3000m of climbing and a fairly long time trial. I think it's a route for complete riders. Cycling is more and more for riders who are complete. To win a Grand Tour you need to be able to time trial, climb and also handle the weather. You've got to prove you can do it all at the Giro if you want to win.”
Before then Aru will enjoy his off season after signing off with ninth place at Il Lombardia. “I've got some well deserved rest coming up after some work in the wind tunnel but I'm already thinking about 2015,” he said with youthful enthusiasm.
“Winning at Montecampione at the Giro was special, as it was my first pro win. I didn't expect to perform at that level even if I'd worked hard all winter for it. I think it's natural that I now want to try and improve on what I've done this year. Next year I hope to mature, improve and do even better.”