Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) showed his pre-Giro d’Italia condition by winning the Giro del Trentino last week and the Sicilian acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges of his pink campaign will be maintaining his form for three weeks.
Nibali is currently putting the finishing touches to his Giro preparation at a training camp at altitude at Campocatino in the Apennines. Although he appeared tired at last Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Nibali is confident that he has recovered well from his recent exertions.
“I’m feeling good and to maintain my form I came to altitude with the team,” Nibali told La Stampa. “It’s a way of oxygenating but it’s also a way of staying together with the team and building team spirit.
“I’ve worked a lot and if anything, the problem will be maintaining this form for three weeks. For this reason, after Liège, I preferred not to race anymore and train at altitude without overdoing it.”
Nibali has identified Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) as his primary rivals for the maglia rosa, and named the two individual time trials and the final mountain stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo as the key days of the race.
“But the Giro is dangerous every day, you only have to remember the soft break that went away at L’Aquila in 2010, when the favourites came in almost 13 minutes down,” Nibali warned. “The essential quality will be consistency. Beyond that, I’ll look to gain more in the mountains that I lose in the time trials.
“Wiggins is in form and has studied the course a lot. Hesjedal has come out of the Ardennes classics well and then Evans and Basso are very experienced, even if maybe they might pay a bit for their age. But I wouldn’t underestimate Scarponi either, who is second to none in the mountains. And then there’s Gesink, who could be the surprise…”
Nibali’s last two Giri have seen him finish 3rd (2010) and 2nd (2011, after Alberto Contador’s disqualification) and he makes no secret of his desire to complete the sequence on the top step of the podium in Brescia.
“I’ve done everything to get to the Giro in the best condition,” he said. “I’ve got a great team, all for me and without even a sprinter. And beyond that, my preparation has gone like I wanted.”