After nine top-ten results, Giacomo Nizzolo broke through on stage 1 of the Tour of Croatia to open his 2016 account and quickly doubled his win tally with stage 3 victory. The Trek-Segafredo rider enjoyed a stint in the leader's jersey at the Dubai Tour in February but hadn't won a race in over a year.
However the 27-year-old now appears to be hitting his straps at the right time as the Italian is aiming for a second straight points classification win at next month's Giro d'Italia.
Nizzolo's stage win also propelled him back into the leader's blue jersey which he had lost after finishing second on stage 2 to Mark Cavendish.
"The form is there and the victories are important. Since the beginning of the season I had racked up good positions (not least to the 11th Ghent, ed). The success in Croatia unlocked me," Nizzolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Despite being unable to shift into the 12T cog, the Trek-Segafredo train delivered Nizzolo into prime position for the sprint with his 11T doing the job.
"It was really fast to get the breakaway back, and the guys did a perfect job in the leadout, so I had to win," said Nizzolo who also leads the points classification. "All day we rode well, the circuit was hilly and before was tough too, harder than last two days. I am feeling good and I was confident for the sprint, but at the end, I was scared because I could not shift into my biggest gear. My cadence was really high, but it worked out with the perfect lead out."
After three sprint friendly stages to start the second edition of the race, Nizzolo doesn't expect to feature in the finale of stage 4 explaining he will simply try to "survive" the final 22km climb to Vojak.
"Then we want to do well in the team time trial (stage five, ed). Otherwise, I will race to improve my condition for the Giro d'Italia," Nizzolo added.
The win means it's the second time in Nizzolo's career that he's won multiple stages in a race having enjoyed back-to-back victories at the 2013 Skoda-Tour de Luxembourg and is a boost for confidence ahead of his main goal of the season.
Nizzolo will line up in Apeldoorn on May 6 for his fifth straight Giro d'Italia where he will be joined by teammates Ryder Hesjedal,Eugenio Alafaci, Jack Bobridge, Fabian Cancellara, Marco Coledan, Laurent Didier, Boy van Poppel and Riccardo Zoidl.