Aru to ride the Tour of the Alps before the Giro d'Italia

Astana leader trains at altitude after difficult spring

Fabio Aru has confirmed he will return to racing at the Tour of the Alps next month having been forced out of Tirreno-Adriatico with bronchitis.

The Italian will make a third appearance at the race with Astana and is under no illusion how tough it will be due to both the mountainous percorso and strong start list. Formally known as the Giro del Trentino, the race renamed itself the Tour of the Alps and added another stage to the menu. It is seen a key final test before the Giro d'Italia, with Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa of Team Sky also set to ride. Vincenzo Nibali has opted to ride the Tour of Croatia due sponsorship ties with his Bahrain-Merida team. 

"The Tour of the Alps is a beautiful race, perfect to find a good feeling in view of the Giro d'Italia. I took part in the Giro del Trentino twice and it always gave me good legs and nice memories of wonderful landscapes," Aru, twice a Giro d'Italia podium finisher, said when the race organisers confirmed presence.

Aru built his 2016 season around the Tour de France but cracked on the final mountain stage and finished 13th overall.

The Sardinian had previously finished third at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, fifth at the 2014 Vuelta a España and second at the 2015 Giro, and then won the 2015 Vuelta. He is leading Astana's team for the Giro d'Italia this year where he will be up against the likes of former winners Nibali and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Aru spent a week off the bike following his bronchitis at Tirreno-Adriatico. To make up for time he headed to an altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada on March 23. He will stay in the Spanish mountains until April 11, training with Dario Cataldo, Paolo Tiralongo, Tanel Kangert, Moreno Moser, Jesper Hansen and Andrey Zeits – the core of the Astana team that will back Aru at the Giro d’Italia.

The Tour of the Alps has traditionally been a key warm-up race for the Giro and Aru expects no change despite the new name in 2017.

"As for schedule, I restarted training and the Tour of the Alps will be the toughest step towards the Giro," Aru said. "This year, there are many pink jersey contenders, with almost 15 athletes aiming to win or get a podium spot."

Having finished fourth and seventh overall on his two previous attempts, Aru will again be targeting the overall and his first win stage since a stage of the 2016 Criterium du Dauphine.

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