Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli has welcomed the news that Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is keen to ride the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and believes that the Briton’s presence would serve as additional motivation for his new signing Vincenzo Nibali.
Nibali joins Astana from Liquigas-Cannondale, where he won the 2010 Vuelta a España and finished on the podium of both the Giro and the Tour de France. After forgoing the Giro this season, the Sicilian is set to return in 2013, where Wiggins may well be his primary adversary.
“I’m really happy with Wiggins’ decision to ride the Giro,” Martinelli told Gazzetta dello Sport. “He’s not an extra rival but rather he’s a great motivation for Nibali. Beating the Tour champion to win the Giro adds another dimension. Wiggins will have very strong teammates, but Nibali will have a super-team with Fuglsang, Brajkovic, Kessiakoff and Tiralongo.”
Martinelli expressed his admiration for Wiggins’ apparent willingness to come to the Giro, but warned that the steep ascents of the Dolomites might prove less forgiving than the steadier passes of the Alps and Pyrenees.
“The battle won’t be between him and Nibali, but between Wiggins and himself, because he’s showing that he is really looking for new experiences,” Martinelli said. “The Giro isn’t easy and he isn’t a climber. Certainly, Nibali is more of a climber and the Italian mountains aren’t the same as those at the Tour.”
In particular, Martinelli points to the daunting pair of tapponi in the final week, stage 19 to Val Martello and stage 20 to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. “That’s where the Giro will be decided for Wiggins,” he said.
As for Nibali, Martinelli said that he must “make a leap in quality” at Astana: “He has the team at his disposal, everything he asks for. Year after year, he’s always improved, and if he goes badly with us, they’ll sack me…”