The insertion of the new climb of the Pompeiana between the Cipressa and the Poggio should tilt the balance of the race away from the sprinters and favour attackers. Nibali, who finished 3rd on the old parcours in 2012, has yet to reconnoitre the new finale, but believes that it could be to his liking.
“I have to go and see the new climb, the Pompeiana, which could be the ideal springboard,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Winning Milan-San Remo would be a real boost for the whole team, but I wouldn’t be satisfied just with that. Look at the Worlds: I was coming from a great since, but I still had the desire and the hunger to win.”
Nibali is currently at Astana’s first gathering ahead of the new season, in Montecatini Terme in Tuscany. While his full racing programme for 2014 is yet to be announced, Nibali effectively ruled out the prospect of returning to the Giro d’Italia to defend his crown.
“No, they’re too close – the gap between the Giro and Tour is too tight. Maybe you could do it by skipping the classics, but it would be too risky an experiment. We’ll see.”
Instead, Nibali is likely to spend an extended period at altitude and ride the Critérium du Dauphiné as preparation for the Tour, as was the case when finished 3rd overall last year. “We’re also looking at the possibility of doing two altitude training camps – one before the Dauphiné and one after,” he said.
While Michele Scarponi and Franco Pellizotti were the two most high-profile additions to Astana’s roster, Nibali will also renew his working relationship with former Liquigas trainer Paolo Slongo, who joins the Kazakh team for the new campaign.
“He knows the entire course of my development, and there’s mutual understanding between us as people,” Nibali said. “Paolo can also follow us at races as he’s a directeur sportif, and that’s no small thing. It’s not just phone calls and emails, there’s human contact too. He’s a great addition for the whole Astana team.”
Nibali and Astana will assemble for their first full training camp in Calpe, Spain from December 10 to 21, while the Sicilian is set to begin his season at the Tour de San Luis (January 20-26) and the new Dubai Tour (February 5-8), organised by RCS Sport.