Vincenzo Nibali is in his native Sicily ready for the first GC showdown of the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. The Italian media is convinced 'Lo Squalo di Messina' will try to win stage 4 on Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, in the hope of riding into his home town on Wednesday resplendent in the maglia rosa, and Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida have done little to play down the growing sense of expectation.
The 17.9km climb on the dark and exposed volcanic slopes is the first of five mountain finishes at the Giro 100. It is also the most anticipated as the overall contenders face off for the first time. Nobody knows what will happen, who will attack and who will struggle, who will win the stage at the 1892m summit and who will pull on the pink jersey.
Slongo revealed that Nibali did a detailed reconnaissance of the stage and the climb to the finish at the Rifugio Sapienza hotel and ski station.
King of the Giro - not just Sicily
While a triumphant Nibali in Sicily would be great for Italian cycling and morale boosting for everyone at Bahrain-Merida, Slongo and Nibali are firmly focused on winning a third Giro d'Italia rather than just being crowned the King of Sicily.