Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has yet to seriously test his form at the Tour de Pologne but the Italian is convinced the Polish race is the best way to return to racing after a post-Giro d'Italia break and a training camp in the Dolomites.
Nibali, one of only six riders to have ever won the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, has not raced the Tour de Pologne since 2013. That year, after winning the Giro d'Italia, his participation in Poland was a build up to the Vuelta, where he finished second overall to Chris Horner.
Nibali, third in the Giro d'Italia this year, is looking to freshen his top end for his second Grand Tour of the season when the Vuelta starts in Nîmes, France on August 19.
"We'll see how it goes, but so far so good, we've only done two flat stages and we need to see what happens on the climbs to get a good impression of my real state of form," Nibali told Cyclingnews at the start of stage three in Jaworzno as he signed autographs outside the Bahrain-Merida team bus. Parked somewhere at the end of a long, semi-rural lane, Nibali observed that he would stick to the original plan and go for the Vuelta a España straight after racing Pologne, with no further racing in between.
"I don't see there's any reason to change my programme, it's what we had planned from the start of the year," he pointed out. "I think it'll work out."
Nibali was coy about his chances in the Vuelta a España, which ushered in Nibali's run of Grand Tour victories seven years ago. Although losing to Chris Horner in 2013 was perhaps one of his toughest defeats, Nibali denied he will be looking for sporting revenge on the Angliru, which is, like in 2013, the most decisive climb of the race this year.
"That's too far away to think about now," Nibali said, but pointed out to Cyclingnews that, rather than a single climb like the much-feared Angliru, it was the difficulty of the Vuelta’s route overall, combined with its star-studded line-up which would make it a very tough challenge.
"The Vuelta's always had a good line-up with big names. It's also got a very hard race route this year too. That will make it very interesting, we'll see how it goes," he said.
Before the Tour de Pologne, Nibali tipped Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) as a potential winner but was guarded on his own chances. "I never want to say too much about that before any race, so we'll see how it goes," he said. "I feel good, the training's being going well, but this is a race where there can be a lot of surprises, so we'll have to be ready to take on whatever occurs."
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