The Liquigas-Cannondale squad was presented at the headquarters of Citroen Italia in Milan on Thursday, but it remains to be seen whether Ivan Basso or Vincenzo Nibali will be in the driving seat at the 2012 Giro d’Italia.
After skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour de France last year, Basso has already confirmed that he will return to the corsa rosa this season, but his teammate Nibali has thrown his hat into the ring in recent weeks. Team manager Roberto Amadio has clear ideas about who should be behind the wheel in May, but he insisted that the riders would have their say.
“We’ve studied the routes of the grand tours and it’s clear that the Giro is better suited to Ivan while the Tour, with 100km of time trialling, is better for Vincenzo,” Amadio said. “But it’s clear that we also have to listen to our athletes’ desires and Vincenzo has told us that he wants to ride the Giro d’Italia. After the Classics we will evaluate his condition and take the final decision.”
Basso explained that his early-season preparation will be similar to 2010, when he went on the capture his second Giro d’Italia victory. “It’s my big objective for the first part of the season and my programme is very like the one I had in 2009 and 2010,” he said.
The veteran was also adamant that he would be happy to have Nibali alongside him at the Giro, as was the case two years ago when both men finished on the podium in Verona. “We’ll follow two different programmes and then the staff will decide, but certainly having him alongside me would be a big advantage.
“I’m the first to recognise Vincenzo’s development, and I reckon that if he rode the Giro, he would be the favourite. I’d be happy to ride the Giro with him.”
Nibali pointed out that, for now, the Tour de France was the only grand tour pencilled into his programme. That was also the case in 2010, however, but the Sicilian was drafted into Liquigas’ Giro squad at short notice when Franco Pellizotti fell foul of the UCI’s biological passport system.
“We’ll decide on the Giro further down the line, but for now I only have the Tour de France in my plans,” he said. “It will be an important year for me, and I’ll be looking to win races, because in 2011 I didn’t win any and I want to get going again.”
The young Slovak talent Peter Sagan, meanwhile, is set to make his Tour de France debut in July. Still two weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, Sagan rattled off three stage wins at the Vuelta a España last year.
“With Peter we’ve decided that he still needs to develop steadily, but this development will also see him take on a big stage race, the Tour de France,” Amadio said.