Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) joined the rest of the big-name riders in the Tour of Oman kick-off press conference, eager to begin his 2015 season but harbouring doubts he has the race fitness to win the overall classification.
"I want to start my season well, in calm conditions before key moments to come like Tirreno Adriatico or Milan - San Remo," Nibali said. "It’s a perfect race to start the season. The weather conditions are ideal compared to Europe. Physically, I feel great, but it’s only my second race of the year after Dubai, an event made for sprinters. It’s a lot harder here with two mountainous stages."
Nibali has competed in the past three editions of the Tour of Oman, but had his best success in 2012, when he won the stage to the top of Green Mountain and came second overall to Peter Velits. But he has only raced the Dubai Tour this season, and is not sure he has the form to repeat or improve upon that result.
"I feel a lot calmer in a different physical condition and different goals," he said. "I don’t think I’ll have the level to win. [Alejandro] Valverde for example has a lot more racing days than I have, and I’ll also keep a eye out on riders like [Joaquim] Rodriguez or [Rafal] Majka. If I feel I don’t have the level, maybe I’ll just focus on a stage win, like the one with the climbs of Boucher Al Amerat."
To view a gallery of images from the pre-race press conference click here.