Aru ready to challenge Contador at the Giro d'Italia

The Astana team is set to confirm that Fabio Aru will lead the Kazakhstani team at the 2015 Giro d'Italia and the young Sardinian rider is already working on his time trialing ability so he can limit his losses to Alberto Contador in the rolling 59km stage between Treviso and Valdobbiadene.

Contador has indicated that Aru is a possible heir to his Grand Tour crown. The two are athletically similar, with Aru able to imitate Contador's attacking style in the mountains. Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Aru can produce a series of attacks at 600 watts, needing just 90 seconds to recover, making him a world-class climber. However Aru knows he needs to improve his time trialling ability if he wants to win a Grand Tour and take on Contador in the 2015 Giro.

“I've got to improve my time trialling because that stage will be vital in the Giro,” Aru told Gazzetta dello Sport. “2015 represents a new start for me. I don't want to look back because what I've done is in the past. The past is in the past.”

Aru is currently in the Tuscan spa town of Montecatini Terme, at the first Astana get-together to prepare for the 2015 season. He went for a two-hour mountain bike ride in the rain on Tuesday but will spend most of Wednesday in meetings as Astana thrashes out its 2015 race programme.

Vincenzo Nibali revealed to Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview earlier this month that he will focus on the Tour de France, with Aru given team leadership for the Giro d'Italia.

Aru is expected to make his season debut at the Tour of Oman, then ride Paris-Nice and attend a training camp at altitude before targeting Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne. The Tour of the Basque Country and the Giro del Trentino may be added to his race programme if he needs extra racing to be at his best for the Giro d'Italia. Aru finished third in the 2014 Giro behind Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran. He was also fifth in the Vuelta a España and won two mountain stages.

Time trial training

“It's clear that Fabio has to improve his time trialling," Astana coach Maurizio Mazzoleni told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“His training schedule includes a weekly TT session and not on a recovery day. He's got to do specific, quality work. We've found a circuit in Brianza near his home so he can do time trial motor pacing.

“During the Astana camp in Calpe in early December, we'll go on the track in Alicante for more work so that we can combine the data from the wind tunnel work Fabio did in California with Specialized with practical data on the track. From that, we'll decide the specifics of his time trial training. Fabio has improved in time trials over the years, we've seen that in the time trials he's done at the Giro in 2013 and 2014 and at the Vuelta. He's young and still developing. We've got to work on everything: position, his muscle strength to hold an aero position and his strength at sub-maximal levels.”

Aru revealed that he travelled to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba for his winter holidays, but was careful not to put on weight.

“In Mexico [Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe] Martinelli was in the hotel next to me and kept an eye on me even there,” Aru joked. “When we met, I held my stomach in but in truth I've only put on a couple of kilos this winter. Since getting home, I haven't missed a day's training, going out even when it rains, because I hate riding on the rollers.”

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