Nibali encourages Aru to try Giro d'Italia

Italian rival writes moving letter of support after Sardinian's knee injury

Vincenzo Nibali has encouraged Fabio Aru not to give hope of riding the Giro d’Italia despite his Italian rival being diagnosed with a knee problem and the Astana team announcing that Aru will not be part the team that lines up in Sardinia on May 5.

Aru crashed last week after his tyre blew out on a descent while he was training at altitude for the Giro d’Italia. On Monday he visited a specialist in Milan, who diagnosed 10 days complete rest. The Astana team quickly confirmed that he would miss the Giro d’Italia, with Michele Scarponi promoted to team leader.

The loss of Aru means the Sardinia cycling fans will be unable to cheer for their local rider during the opening three stages of the race and means Aru and Nibali will not go head-to-head in the Giro d’Italia.

Much has been made of the rivalry between Nibali and Aru during their time together at the Astana team but they became close during the 2016 season as they rode the Tour de France and Rio Olympic Games. Nibali now leads the Bahrain-Merida team but was hoping to forge an alliance against the likes of Nairo Quintana and the other overall contenders.

Nibali wrote a moving message to Aru in Wednesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport, calling on him not to give up hope of at least starting the centenary edition of the Giro d’Italia.

“Fabio, don’t lose hope. Not yet. Even if it’s very difficult and perhaps even impossible, I think there’s still a chance to see you at the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 5 in Alghero. You and I are the two big Italian riders for Grand Tours and everyone will miss out if you can’t be in Sardinia,” Nibali wrote.

“In my heart I hope that something can change during the ten days of rest that Professor Combi has prescribed. I’m really sorry about what happened. I think like a rider and so I know what its like to dedicate months preparing for a goal as special as the Giro d’Italia that starts near your home, especially for us, who come from the islands, and so don’t often get to race near our homes. If everything had gone well, you would have definitely been a contender for the pink jersey.”

Aru was reported to be distraught after realising he would miss the Giro d’Italia but Nibali called on him to fight back and keep even a tiny hope of riding alive despite him missing three weeks of vital training in April.

“I’m not a doctor but sometimes we’re able to recover faster than people expect. Maybe things will be better in a few days time…. Fabio, don’t give up hope, even if everything seems lost. Miracles do happen and I really hope to see you at the start of the Giro 100,” Nibali wrote.

“I just hope there’s a chance you can change your mind. Everybody knows what has happened and nobody would ask you to you be at 100 per cent. But perhaps you can try to ride and then leave the Giro if it becomes impossible to continue. Whatever happens, the Giro could be useful for the Tour de France and for the future.”

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