Classics, Giro and Worlds on Nizzolo's 2022 hitlist after Israel Start-Up Nation move

VERONA ITALY MAY 21 Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy and Team Qhubeka Assos celebrates at arrival during the 104th Giro dItalia 2021 Stage 13 a 198km stage from Ravenna to Verona girodiitalia Giro UCIworldtour on May 21 2021 in Verona Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Israel Start-Up Nation's new sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo has outlined an ambitious set of goals for the 2022 season after making the switch from the troubled Qhubeka NextHash team.

The Italian, who this season won his first career stage at the Giro d'Italia after logging 11 second place finishes stretching back to 2013, has a return to his home Grand Tour next May firmly in his sights next season, among other varied goals.

With organisers RCS Sport having unveiled the route for the Corsa Rosa earlier this month, the race looks to be set up to host showdown of the peloton's top sprinters, with six or seven of the 21 stages likely to feature mass bunch finishes.

Speaking at Israel Start Up's end-of-year camp in Israel, Nizzolo told Cyclingnews that the race would be among his goals for 2022, alongside a number of spring Classics, races where he enjoyed success this season.

"I think many sprinters are thinking about the Giro," Nizzolo said. 

"It looks like a good race for sprinters with several options to sprint. I'm looking forward to starting work with this lead out train and then show off at the Giro with a good shape.

"I would like to be good in Milan-San Remo, too. It's always a tricky race but my goal – as with other years – is to try and be at the start in 100 per cent condition and then in the race we'll see what happens. Up until then, the main focus will be on preparing for that race 100 per cent.

"Then I've seen last year a few Classics where I can be up there, so I'd like to continue with this improvement in the Classics. We've shown we have a really strong Classics core in the team and that's the key to be good there. I really believe that we can be up there and play for something big at this team."

In 2020, Nizzolo finished fifth in Milan-San Remo, third in the sprint behind late attackers Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert, though next spring the 'sprinter's Classic' won't be the only race he'll be focussed on.

In recent years, the 32-year-old has shown a flair for the northern Classics, having taken second at the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne as well as taking fourth and second places this year's Classic Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.

"After San Remo, I think Gent-Wevelgem is a good option," he said. 

"Dwars is also a nice one, and then Harelbeke I don't know. In Flanders last year I wasn't so good because I was sick. Then I think Roubaix would be too late if I want to prepare the Giro properly so maybe I won't do this one."

A tilt at the rainbow jersey and a dedicated lead out train

Giro dItalia 2021 104th Edition 13th stage Ravenna Verona 198 km 21052021 Giacomo Nizzolo ITA Team Qhubeka Assos photo Roberto BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

Nizzolo celebrating his first career Giro d'Italia stage win in Verona earlier this year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

A tilt at the rainbow jersey in Wollongong, Australia is also in his mind as he looks to return to the World Championships. He was fifth in Qatar in 2016 when Italy's protected sprinter and 15th this year in a similar role.

Nizzolo is aware, however, that competition to lead the Italy squad on the flat course will be fierce, with the likes of Sonny Colbrelli, Elia Viviani and Davide Ballerini also in the frame. Former sprinter turned road captain Daniele Bennati has recently been named as Italy's new men's national coach.

"My goal is to do the best possible season and then it depends also on the others," he said when asked about possible leadership ambitions.

"I will do my best and then we'll see in the end who will be the leader of the national team. Luckily, we have good options so to be the leader I need to win a lot. I have to do a good season to be the leader.

"He was a fast guy and a great teammate for me," Nizzolo said of Bennati. "He has been one of my examples when I turned pro – he taught me many things – so I'm very happy that he's on board."

After a "good and consistent" 2021 campaign which saw him pick up wins elsewhere at the Clásica de Almería and Circuito de Getxo, Nizzolo is looking to build on that for 2022 with a dedicated lead out train.

He'll be working with Alex Dowsett, Matthias Brändle and Rick Zabel as part of the new train – "a consistently solid train" says Dowsett – having not really had one before in his career.

"They will be the core of the lead-out train," Nizzolo said. "Hopefully I can share with them most of the races of the year.

"Normally Zabel will be the last one and Dowsett has really good skills in how to lead the guys behind him so he would be in front. And then Brändle using his power to bring Zabel in the right spot to make the final action. But yeah, this is something that we will see also day by day. In general, that's the idea.

"I already talked with those guys, and they seemed really motivated which motivated me even more, too. It's great to see guys motivated towards the project. I have really good feelings and let's hope to bring them to the road, too." 

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