By Gregor Brown in Châteauroux
Italian Vincenzo Nibali came to the Tour de France looking for experience and got just that with a 10th place in the Cholet time trial. The 23 year-old of Team Liquigas now sits ninth overall, behind Cadel Evans, but ahead of others favourites Damiano Cunego and Alejandro Valverde.
"I left the home thinking 'I am going to the Tour to have experience.'" he told Cyclingnews in Cholet before the start of stage five.
Nibali, who comes to the Tour having completed the Giro d'Italia, clocked a time of 36'31 on the 29.5 kilometre parcours. In a team with Filippo Pozzato and Francesco Chicchi, it is Nibali who is now earmarked as the team's GC man.
"I only lost 40 seconds to Schumacher. It was a good sign, it showed that I am going well," he stated of his time trial run. "Day by day, we will see what happens. I am here at the Tour without pressure. I am learning how to race well and gaining experience."
Nibali will need all that experience when the race tackles its first of five mountaintop finishes to Super Besse on Thursday. "I have not seen it, I will have a look tonight in the book," he said of the climb at the end of the 195.5-kilometre stage.
"It will certainly not be me attacking. If I have the legs I will try to stay with the big guns; it is up to them to make the race."