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Fabio Aru draws interest from Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM for 2021

GRAND COLOMBIER FRANCE AUGUST 09 Arrival Fabio Aru of Italy and UAE Team Emirates during the 32nd Tour de LAin 2020 Stage 3 a 145km stage from Saint Vulbas to Grand Colombier 1501m tourdelain TOURDELAIN TDA on August 09 2020 in Grand Colombier France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images
Fabio Aru at the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Fabio Aru is still without a team for 2021 after confirming his departure from UAE Team Emirates, but La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM have offered the Italian a contract for next season.

Aru has not raced since he abandoned the Tour de France on stage 9, earning the censure of UAE Team Emirates advisor Giuseppe Saronni, who criticised both the rider and the team. 

“For the umpteenth time Fabio disappointed us, at a time when we needed him so much,” Saronni told RAI.

That outburst effectively marked the end of Aru’s troubled, three-year tenure at UAE Team Emirates. He had joined the squad from Astana ahead of the 2018 season, but he failed to win a race with the team. 

Aru had won the 2015 Vuelta a España, twice finished on the podium of the Giro d'Italia and finished fifth at the 2017 Tour de France during his time at Astana, but his move to UAE Team Emirates was less successful.

His career was interrupted by surgery to treat a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg early in 2019, though his best Grand Tour display for UAE Team Emirates followed soon afterwards, when he placed 14th at that year’s Tour de France.

The 30-year-old made little impact on the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season. Encouraging displays at the Vuelta a Burgos (ninth) and the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge (fifth) proved a false dawn. He was dropped ominously early at Il Lombardia shortly afterwards and then struggled through the first week of the Tour de France before abandoning on the second day in the Pyrenees.

In a recent Instagram interview with the former professional Lello Ferrari, Aru indicated that he had been affected by the death of his grandfather.

“The day before the Tour, I received family news that really affected me,” Aru said. “I preferred not to speak about it at the time, but the people in my team knew. This news destabilised me. It happened during the Tour but I was attacked by people who didn’t know what had happened.”

Asked about his destination for 2021, Aru said it was “an important choice, and the decision mustn’t be rushed.”

In an open letter in this month’s edition of BiciSport, Aru’s former directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli ruled out the prospect of a return to Astana. 

“If I could, I’d come and take you today, but you know that ‘Vino’ has made other choices,” wrote Martinelli, who added: “Start over again with happiness, picking the right team, not for the contract they can guarantee you but the warmth they can give to you.”

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec manager Gianni Savio recently ruled out signing Aru, but La Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Thursday that Luca Scinto and Angelo Citracca’s Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM squad have tabled an offer. Other teams are also apparently interested due to Aru's Grand Tour palmarès.

Vini Zabù were a wildcard invitee to this year’s Giro, but they have since lost two of their leading names. Giovanni Visconti refused to an offer to stay and recently signed with Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè for 2021, while Luca Wackermann has signed for Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador’s Eolo-Kometa squad, which is stepping up to ProTeam level next season.