Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso are making their return to racing after completing the Tour de France for their Liquigas-Cannondale team. Nibali was chosen to be part of the Italian national team for the London Olympic Games road race after his third-place at the Tour de France, while the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be Basso’s first competitive day since riding into Paris almost a month ago.
Both Italians have stated their competitive intentions for the seven-day race however, altitude and lack of race rhythm will factor into their ability to stay with the best.
"I’ve recovered from the exertion of the Tour, I’m still lack a bit of racing rhythm. Nevertheless I’m still determined to make my mark and also support my teammates," said Basso prior to the start of the tour.
"I expect to have a big end to the season and want to achieve major new goals," said Nibali. "Colorado is the right race for getting back into the swing of competitive riding. This is my first race for a while so I’m not making any predictions, but I’m certainly not here just to go for a spin. It’s a difficult parcours and I love new challenges," he said.
Nibali will likely be the top contender for the overall classification however the team brings a number of riders who will also look to make their mark over the coming days. One of this year’s standouts from Liquigas-Cannondale is Moreno Moser. The 21-year-old has taken a number of impressive victories this year including winning a stage and the overall at the demanding Tour of Poland in July.
"The race looks tough but interesting on paper. I’m in good condition, I trained in the mountains at Passo San Pellegrino with the team after the Tour of Poland to fine-tune my legs. I plan to be successful here as well. It’s been an incredible season so far, and I don’t intend to stop yet. I’ll try to exploit every possible opportunity I get," Moser said on his team website.
Boulder-born and USA national road champion Tim Duggan has come into the USA Pro Cycling Challenge from the Tour of Utah and is ready to support his team in the mountains. He came close to winning the KOM classification in Utah, eventually finishing seven points shy of taking the jersey. Nibali and Basso will look to Duggan during the tougher stages.
"This is the first time that I have been to Colorado and I am pretty happy for the welcoming I have received so far. I arrived a few days ago for small training camp. I think it’s going to be a good race with strong riders and it’s going to be ok," said Nibali during the opening press conference.