It remains to be seen whether Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) lines up at the 2012 Giro d'Italia, but the Sicilian admitted that the route was more to his liking that of this year's onerous edition.
Nibali battled gamely in the face of Alberto Contador's domination in May, and finished a creditable third in Milan. Rumoured to be building his 2012 campaign around the Tour de France, however, there was a palpably wistful air about Nibali as he mulled over the route after the official presentation in Milan on Sunday.
"Maybe I would have preferred a Giro like that this year, but that's the way it goes," a Nibali told Cyclingnews. "It's a very nice Giro, well-designed. I like it a lot."
An oft-repeated truism at RAI's Via Mecenate studios on Sunday afternoon was that the 2012 Giro will be a "more human" affair. But to Nibali's mind, it is simply a case that the route is more balanced, with ample space for a wider array of players in the race's narrative.
"The tough stages all come in the last week, and there aren't too many stages with sterrato (unpaved roads) or that are hard to manage, so it's much less complicated," he said. "There should be a bit more for the sprinters too, so it's a more complete Giro than last year."
Like his stablemate Ivan Basso, Nibali was reticent to comment on his plans for next season, and would neither confirm nor rule out his participation in the Giro. This year, Nibali led at the Giro while Basso prepared for the Tour on Mount Etna, and it appears that Liquigas-Cannondale's key men will again divide up the stage racing calendar in 2012.
"We'll decide on the programme at our first training camp," Nibali said. "Right now, it's hard to even think about what I should do next year, but I'll talk about it with the team first and then we'll plan our season."
Basso has dismissed the idea of either man riding the Giro in support of the other while preparing for the Tour, although Nibali appeared slightly more amenable to the possibility.
"We'll have to see. It could even happen that Ivan and I both go to the Giro, although that would be a bit difficult," he warned. "We must try to make sure that we don't end up cutting across one another anyway."
The day before the Giro presentation, Nibali brought the curtain down on his 2011 campaign with a stirring but ultimately futile attack on the Madonna del Ghisallo at the Tour of Lombardy. In spite of his season-long consistency, however, Nibali failed to land a single victory.
"I'm still happy, because I had some success, like at the Giro d'Italia," Nibali said. "I had a lot of placings and I was always up there, but in the end, I was just missing an important victory."
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