Fabio Aru has said that he will target the Giro d'Italia next season and not the Tour de France, as previously suggested by his team. Aru told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that he would spend the early part of the season at altitude before riding Tirreno-Adriatico and Liège-Bastogne-Liège ahead of the Italian Grand Tour.
"From January 20, I will spend a couple of weeks on Teide [in Tenerife]. It's the first time I've been there in this period," he told Gazzetta. "After that, I will do Tirreno-Adriatico and probably Liège before the Giro. The rest of the program is yet to be established."
The 2018 Giro d'Italia will begin in Jerusalem on May 4 and finish in Rome on May 27. Aru will go up against the Tour de France and Vuelta a España champion, Chris Froome. The Team Sky rider is attempting to do the Giro-Tour double next season but his participation is up in the air while he is under investigation by the UCI after an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol.
This year's Giro champion Tom Dumoulin is reported to be returning to defend his title. Thibaut Pinot, Louis Meintjes, and Orica-Scott riders Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates have all confirmed their participation.
Aru's update will likely come as a relief to Dan Martin, who joins Aru as a new signing at UAE Team Emirates next season. Earlier this month, team manager Giuseppe Sarroni suggested to Cyclingnews that Aru could appear alongside Martin and sprinter Alexander Kristoff at the Tour de France next July. Aru's confirmation that he will ride the Giro d'Italia does not rule out a start at the Tour six weeks later but it increases the likelihood that he would start it as a helper rather than a leader.
After his training camp on Mt Teide, Aru is set to start his season at the Abu Dhabi Tour at the end of February. The Italian has already been taking in the altitude metres with a Christmas Eve trip to Sestriere. The climb will feature on stage 19 of next year's Giro d'Italia, as part of a four-mountain monster of a stage.
"On the 23rd, 24th and 25th I was in Trana, in Piedmont, at the home of Valentina [his girlfriend]. On Christmas eve I did the 'Giro del Sestriere': six hours of riding, 180km and 2,200 meters in altitude. It was a bit of a gamble given the season, but it was beautiful," he said.
Aru put the training aside on Christmas day and enjoyed the food on offer, in moderation, of course. He now heads back to his native Sardinia ahead of the New Year.
"We took away some of the temptations, but we do not scale it too far back," said Aru. "Maybe you have lunch but skip breakfast and dinner. I ate tomini, peppers with the bagna cauda and panettone. If you do not eat them these days, when do you eat them? We are athletes, human beings. On Wednesday, I will go home to Sardinia for a week. Then I also have to adjust according to the weather."