Fabio Aru has revealed his updated Italian national champion's jersey during a visit to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, but remained evasive about riding the Giro d'Italia, even though the Corsa Rosa is widely expected to be a major objective in his first season with UAE Team Emirates.
Aru travelled to Milan with the team's general manager Giuseppe Saronni, bike sponsor Ernesto Colnago, and Italian national coach Davide Cassani. The visit appears to be a bridge-building exercise after a stand-off regarding Aru's presence at the 2018 Giro d'Italia.
Aru showed off his new Italian champion's jersey after the original version came under criticism for a lack of the iconic red, white and green of the Italian tricolore in favour of the standard UAE Team Emirates design.
The new jersey is not as traditional as Aru's tricolore jersey during his final months at Astana but has far bigger red, white and green bands around the chest and a far smaller UAE Team Emirates logo.
"I like it and I'm honoured to wear it in the coming months. The tricolore is much clearer, it's a special jersey," Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"To be honest, it still seems strange to think I'm the national champion. When I pull it on every morning it still seems like a dream."
Aru confirmed that he would make his 2018 debut at the Abu Dhabi Tour - the home of his sponsors - in late February, with the WorldTour race a first important goal.
Gazzetta suggested that Aru's season is 'destined to be built around his return to the Giro d'Italia, with the world championships in Austria also a major goal'. However, Aru was coy about riding the Giro d'Italia.
"Which do I prefer? Both," Aru said.
With fellow new signings Dan Martin and Alexander Kristoff both expected to ride the Tour de France, Aru is likely to lead UAE Team Emirates at the Giro. Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) have both named the Giro as a goal for 2018 but Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has opted to target the Tour de France, leaving Giro organiser RCS Sport and La Gazzetta dello Sport in need of an Italian contender for May.
However, Saronni told Cyclingnews in December that Aru could snub the Giro and ride the Tour de France alongside Martin and Kristoff due to the global importance of the race.
"Until there's not a final no (to the Tour de France), then there could be yes. The importance of the Tour de France is a key factor. We've got to consider the Tour first but it's a very difficult and delicate decision," Saronni said.
Aru has already said he will ride the Vuelta a España to be at his best for the World Championships, leaving him with a tough choice about his first Grand Tour of the season.
"I think both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France routes are beautiful and suit me quite well next season. I like all three Grand Tours and that's why it's difficult to make a final choice," Aru told Cyclingnews of his Grand Tour dilemma.
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