This year has been a strange one from the point of view of Astana's Fabio Aru, who has clocked up just 40 race days so far over the course of a staccato season. He only began racing in March with Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya but that was followed by a slightly controversial leave of absence in April ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
After taking two mountain stage victories and stepping onto the second tier of the podium in Milan, he took another two months off racing but has resurfaced at the seven-stage Tour de Pologne and is focused with tunnel vision on the Vuelta a España later this month.
“After the Giro I took a rest for one week, went on holiday to the seaside, then I started again to build up my condition,” Aru told Cyclingnews in Nowy Sacz ahead of stage 5. “I went to Sestrière for 20 days in July for a training camp before coming here. [Diego] Rosa, [Paolo] Tiralongo, and [Andrey] Zeits were there with me and we worked really well together.”
Sestrière is where Aru does the bulk of his altitude training – he was there in the build-up to the Giro and he will go back for eight to ten days after the Tour de Pologne to put the finishing touches to his Vuelta preparations.
He would ordinarily be one of the favourites in Poland, at least to take a stage win in the mountains on stages 5 and 6 on Thursday and Friday. However, he’s not concerned about results – if a win comes, it comes but more important are the messages that come from his legs.
The first three days of the race were sprint stages and stage 4 featured a couple of climbs but nothing overly challenging. As such, he has had a valuable reintroduction to racing, working on riding in the wheels of his teammates in the bunch, but hasn’t received surefire indication yet of how things are shaping up ahead of the Vuelta.
“After two months without racing it’s difficult to say where I am so we will see day by day,” he said. “It has been good to get back into the rhythm of racing as you can’t compare it at all to training. If I feel good sensations I will try and go for the win but I don’t want to put any pressure on myself here.
“We are here to work, we are working well to prepare for the Vuelta. At the moment I feel good and we will see how the next two days go – they are really important to see where we are, me personally but also as a team.”