Vincenzo Nibali (Liqugias-Cannondale) has downplayed his chances of winning the Italian national championships at Valsugana in Trentino on Saturday, noting that he may enter the race heavy-legged from his pre-Tour de France training camp at the Passo San Pellegrino.
The Sicilian had a low-key Critérium du Dauphiné and endured a difficult day on the queen stage over the Col de Joux-Plane. Although he insisted that he had ample time to put things to rights ahead of the Tour, he is aware that his recent heavy training load was not ideal preparation for the national championships, even if the course appears well-suited to his characteristics.
“It would be beautiful to take the tricolour jersey and above all the course is intriguing,” Nibali said. “But I think it’s important to be realistic and not get carried away by enthusiasm. I’ve been working with the Tour in mind since May. It’s the main objective of my season and unfortunately, I might pay for that on Saturday as the work I carried out at the Passo San Pellegrino was intense. Although that doesn’t mean that my grinta and desire to ride as a protagonist won’t be just as strong.”
Italian coach Paolo Bettini is currently leading an Italian team training camp in the area, and after testing the circuit with his charges during the week, he is anticipating a duel between Nibali and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD).
“We tried the course and it’s going to be a hard and hot 255 kilometres of racing,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The climbing section is quite consistent, so I’d say that it could be a circuit for Damiano Cunego or maybe for Vincenzo Nibali, who has been training very hard in the mountains for the Tour. What a battle that would be – may the best man win.”
Bettini hinted that there may be a place in the Italian Olympic line-up for Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). “He’s a team man who worked for a certain Boonen on the pavé and he was also in the running for fourth at Milan-San Remo until he crashed in the finishing straight,” he noted.
In the same week that he was called before the Italian Olympic Committee to discuss allegations that he was coached by the infamous Dr. Michele Ferrari, Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) was also present at the Italian training camp, although Gazzetta noted that Bettini declined to comment on the matter.