Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) begins his season on Tuesday at the Giro di Sardegna. The Sicilian has explained that he deliberately delayed his return to competition in order to recuperate from an exhausting 2010 campaign in which he won the Vuelta a España and finished third at the Giro d’Italia
Nibali’s first outing last year came in January’s Tour de San Luis and he raced all the way through to the Tour of Lombardy in October in a season that saw him pin on a race number on no fewer than 81 occasions.
“It’s the first time [I’ve started my season so late],” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But the other years I’d also finished racing earlier. We decided to started later in order to help me recover better and to prepare better.”
Ahead of his seasonal debut, Nibali recently spent two weeks at a Liquigas-Cannondale training camp in Tenerife. Although he claims to be unsure of the precise mileage he has clocked up this winter, Nibali is confident that his preparation is on track.
“I don’t know how many kilometres I’ve done, I haven’t looked,” Nibali said. “But between training alone and at camps, including the one in Tenerife, I feel I’m where I should be. It’s true that I have a few kilos more and a few watts less in respect to the Vuelta, but that’s normal and as predicted. Everything is under control.”
Liquigas-Cannondale’s other leader Ivan Basso has already begun his campaign and impressed in Saturday’s Trofeo Laigueglia, and Nibali admitted that he too is keen to get back into action.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I couldn’t open the paper, switch on the TV or surf the net without seeing the others who were already racing and even winning.
“At Laigueglia [Basso] went well, but everybody who began racing a month ago in Argentina have a different rhythm.”
Contador and Mosquera
Another rider who recently began his season, albeit in hugely contentious circumstances, is Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank). The Spaniard was not sanctioned by his national federation even though he tested positive for Clenbuterol during last year’s Tour de France.
While Nibali did not express strong opinions on the specifics of Contador’s case, he was critical of the fact that his erstwhile Liquigas teammate Franco Pellizotti has been sidelined since falling foul of the UCI’s biological passport system last May. The Italian is so far without a team for the 2011 season.
“I’m not going into the merit of the [Contador] decision,” Nibali said. “The solution of his case, even temporarily, is a good thing for cycling but that immediacy of judgement should also be the case for other riders who remain suspended. Pellizotti has been waiting for almost a year and isn’t racing: a scandal.”
Meanwhile, Ezequiel Mosquera, who finished second to Nibali at the Vuelta, has so far escaped sanction for his positive test for Hydroxyethal starch, although his Vacansoleil team has said that he will not race in their colours until the matter is resolved.
“It’s a strange case,” Nibali said. “It’s disheartening, or even ridiculous and tragicomic.”