The expectations surrounding Fabio Aru (Astana) have increased since his third place finish at the Giro d’Italia but the young Italian is adamant that he will start again from scratch when he lines up for the Vuelta a España on August 23.
The 24-year-old entered the Giro in a free role behind leader Michele Scarponi and with no designs on a specific overall finish, but he delivered a strong showing in the final week to take stage victory at Montecampione and climb onto the final podium in Trieste.
"What I’ve done already belongs to the past and I’m only interested in the future," Aru said. "I still have to learn a lot, but I’ll line up for the start of the Vuelta with the same mindset that I had at the Giro – without precise aims but with the desire to give my best, like always."
The Sardinian’s Giro performance followed a limited diet of racing in the early part of the season. Under the guidance of Astana coach Paolo Slongo, he began the Giro with just 13 days of racing in his legs, preferring instead to spend prolonged periods training at altitude.
Not surprisingly, Aru is following a similar regimen during the run-in to the Vuelta. He trained at altitude at Sestriere for the month of July in the company of teammate Paolo Tiralongo, and his first race since the Giro was last week’s Tour of Poland, where he finished a low-key 64th overall.
"I’ve just come back to racing at the Tour of Poland and that was an important step on the road to the Vuelta," Aru said. "The Vuelta a España is my second big objective of the season. I’m looking forward to it, and above all, I’m curious to know if I will be capable of fighting with the big champions even though I’ve never tackled two big tours in the same season."
This year’s Vuelta should feature one of the strongest fields of recent years, with 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Sky), Giro winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar), defending Vuelta champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) and Tour podium finisher Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) among those expected to participate.
"I don’t want people to say that my season ended with the Giro, I want to show that I’m a consistent rider. I’ll also have the chance to ride alongside champions like Chris Froome," said Aru, who also listed Pinot among the competitors he admires the most, pointing out that the Frenchman (2009) had preceded him on the roll of honour of the Giro della Val d’Aosta, the prestigious amateur stage race that Aru won in 2011 and 2012.