The Astana team is awaiting a decision from the UCI Licence Commission about its future but Grand Tour team leaders Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru have continued to focus on their preparation for the upcoming Ardennes Classics, the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
Both Nibali and Aru have recently spent time training at altitude at Teide on the Spanish island of Tenerife, clocking up several blocks of quality training under the eye of Astana team coach Paolo Slongo and his assistant Maurizio Mazzoleni. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali and Aru crossed paths on the roads of Teide with Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome and Richie Porte (Team Sky) as they trained for the Giro d'Italia and Ardennes Classics.
Slongo explained that Nibali needed the long training camp to clear his mind of the pressure and responsibility of being the current Tour de France winner. Nibali worked to improve his form after a disappointing spring as he targets Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Aru will ride next week's Giro del Trentino before taking on Contador and Porte at the Giro d'Italia. The 24-year-old Sardinian finished third in the 2014 Giro d'Italia and fifth in the Vuelta a Espana.
"A lot has changed for Vincenzo after winning the Tour de France. He arrived at Teide a bit overloaded with all the extra things he'd been doing. Lets say he was more stressed out than usual. The camp was useful in helping clear his head and rediscover himself. But I think he's got some good form," Slongo told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"We worked with him a lot, on what he was missing in the first part of the season such as the changes of rhythm and above threshold efforts. The Amstel Gold Race and Fleche-Wallonne will polish his form, while Vincenzo has something to prove at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He really cares about it and so we started the camp earlier. He'll also ride the Tour de Romandie and target the overall classification."
Triple training block on Teide
Slongo revealed details of the training Nibali and Aru did on Teide, and of how they completed three full triple block of training.
“They were intense days of hard training. We did three full triple blocks, that is: a first ride of five and half hours, a second of six and a half or seven hours and then a third of three and a half to four hours with the time trial bike. The fourth day is a rest day. That means each triple includes about 16 hours of training and 11 thousand metres of climbing. When you multiply it three times, it's an important block of training."
"Aru has followed a gradual build-up to the Tour de France, The Giro del Trentino (April 21-24) will be an important test but we're where we want to be. And there's still be time to do some extra quality work during the pre-Giro get together at Sestriere."
"In 2014 Aru used his time trial bike during his rest days to work on his position. Now we've dedicated the third day of every triple block to his position plus specific time trial work at race speed. His numbers are better, Fabio has an extra 5-10 watts at threshold, that means he's at about 395-400 watts with a weight of 61.5kg."
Aru was sixth overall at the Volta a Catalunya and is expected to ride with Nibali at Liege-Bastogne-Liege immediately after finishing the Giro del Trentino. He will then focus on the Giro d'Italia.
"Compared to 2014 we opted to anticipate things," Mazzoleni explained. "Fabio will start the Giro with 17 or 18 days of racing in his legs compared to 13 in 2014. During the Sestriere camp, Fabio could also study stage three of the Giro from Rapallo to Sestri Levante, it's got a complicated finale."
Aru has been given team leadership for the Giro d'Italia after his impressive ride in 2014. However Slongo revealed that Nibali would be ready to also ride the Giro d’Italia.
"If things changed, it wouldn't be a problem. Vincenzo would be ready," Slongo said. “Remember 2010? He called up to ride at the last minute instead of Pellizotti and finished third overall. Vincenzo is a lot stronger now than he was then."