Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) has picked out his main rivals for the Giro d’Italia with the Italian returning to racing next week at Strade Bianche. The veteran Grand Tour leader has built his season around the Giro d'Italia as he looks to improve on last year’s second-place overall. The 35-year-old recently returned from an altitude training camp and highlighted the main threats in challenging for the maglia rosa.
The Italian also made special of race debutant Remco Evenepoel, the 20-year-old Deceuninck-Quick Step who has taken the sport by storm since his junior days and his transition into the WorldTour at the start of 2019.
“I expect tough confrontations from contenders like Richard Carapaz, Jakob Fuglsang, and Simon Yates,” Nibali said on his team’s website.
“And one who could be a big surprise, Evenepoel,” added Nibali.
“He’s strong, and he has approached cycling with personality. I like him. Only the road will tell how well he can perform during a three-week Grand Tour.
“Besides Remco, it’s good not to underestimate any outsider,” he said, perhaps remembering how Carapaz stormed to the win twelve months after the pre-race favourites watched each other when the then Movistar rider attacked in the mountains.
“The history of the Giro teaches that every year someone surprises. Last but not least, I dedicate a thought to Peter Sagan, a friend as well as a colleague. I’m happy to have him at the race. As he is already showing with his other great talent – acting in front of a camera – he will make this Giro even more special.”
The rescheduled Giro d’Italia will get underway with four stages in Nibali’s native Sicily, beginning on Saturday October 3 with a 16km individual time trial. The route looks well-suited to the Trek rider, with the final week likely to decide the outcome of the race. Nibali, who typically improves as a race reaches the final set of mountain stages, will use all of his experience when racing resumes, and ensure that he spreads his form over the three weeks.
“The warmth of my homeland will offer a beautiful and emotional context, but I cannot allow myself any distractions," he said. "The time trial and the arrival on Etna two days later require me to be prepared from the beginning. I think the third week will be the decisive one. The TT specialists have an advantage in the opening stage, but after two weeks, everyone’s physical and mental forces will be different."
Nibali and the core of his Giro d’Italia climbing unit recently spent 15 days in the Dolomites training together as they prepared for the return of racing. The main purpose of the camp was the tally up the miles but Nibali and his teammates also used the period to mentally prepare for the extreme demands that they will be placed on them once the frenetic nature of the season returns. Nibali will not leave Italy during his race programme – unless he’s selected for the Worlds in Switzerland – and the bonds built in recent weeks will be fully tested over the months ahead.
“Building success starts from the foundation that is the team. During the training camp, I’ve felt around me a great desire to race, perform, and do well. There was a great unity of purpose, the same that I felt during the lockdown months without knowing if and how the season would start again. Trek-Segafredo showed exceptional team spirit, something that we can’t take for granted. There was always a thread that kept us in touch, not only among riders but with the whole group, management and staff included. Now that we can work together side by side, we feel to have obtained an advantage,” the Trek leader said.
“Despite the lack of racing and the need to improve teamwork, there was a strong harmony and commitment. With Giulio Ciccone, [Gianluca] Brambilla, and Antonio [Nibali] we trained at Teide and in the Dolomites [Nicola] Conci, [Jacopo] Mosca, and [Pieter] Weening joined the group. With Giulio, in particular, we created a great feeling. He’s strong, full of energy, and he has an insane determination. Although he’s young, he’s a real team player. We are all happy about the work we’ve done, and now we’re looking forward to testing ourselves in a racing context.”
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