Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) bruised a rib in a tumble during the penultimate stage of the Tour de San Luis but quietly completed the Argentinean stage race on Sunday.
The 2013 Giro d'Italia winner finished 44th overall, 22:58 behind overall winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar), opting not to fight for an overall placing. However he insisted he was satisfied with his season debut, while also conceding he is a little behind where he had hoped to be due to a busy winter.
"I'm in line with where I want to be. I've lost a kilo or two and I'm pedaling better. It's been a good start to the season," Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I've spoken to (my team coach) Paolo Slongo and he's not worried about anything. In the time trial I was able to push 10 extra watts. Lots of riders came here with better form than me, which means they've worked hard during the winter, whereas I had a pretty relaxed winter."
Nibali denied suggestions that he was a little nervous about his form after struggling to train consistently during the winter. The Sicilian will become a father in February, is the leader and figurehead of the Astana team and will go up against Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
"It's normal to get a bit stressed out when you travel a lot and you can't train as you want. I'm a bit behind but it's okay," he said.
Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice?
Nibali and Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov have confirmed that they will target the Tour de France. Nibali is set to clash with Froome at the Tour of Oman in February but would also like to go head-to-head with his Tour rival at Tirreno-Adriatico, rather than ride Paris-Nice to get a taste of French roads. Nibali beat Froome in the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico after attacking in the cold and rain and revealing a chink in the Briton's armour.
"Vinokourov wants me to ride Paris-Nice but I'd prefer to be at Tirreno-Adriatico. We'll see, let's hope so," he said.