In spite of a hectic season to date that has included podium finishes at the Tour de France, Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as well as overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is determined to finish out his campaign with a series of strong performances.
The "Shark of the Strait" kicked off his preparations for the final phase of his season by participating in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, as he takes aim at the world championships and Tour of Lombardy in September.
“For cyclists, the season of rest - if we want to call it that – is winter. Autumn starts with the Worlds and the Tour of Lombardy, and I certainly wouldn’t mind finishing my season off in style,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I’ve always liked to be competitive all year around and I’ve often been so. I’ve had 71 days of racing but I don’t feel tired. Yes, the Shark is still hungry.”
Nibali’s final race before the Worlds will be the Giro di Padania (September 3-7), and he confirmed that he will line up for Liquigas-Cannondale in the team time trial world championships in Valkenburg on September 16. Nibali leaves the team for Astana in 2013.
“The team has involved me in the project for the team time trial that opens the Worlds, a nice challenge,” he said. “I think it will be a very spectacular race. And then after that, I’ll be wearing the blue jersey [of Italy in the road race – ed.]”
Nibali was a frequent attacker during his week in Colorado, although he admitted that racing at such altitude had posed its own problems. “It was a new experience for me and I had to acclimatise. One king of the mountains climb was at almost 3,800 metres above sea level and that that altitude, you really run out of breath. You pay every time you go into oxygen debt.
“From an organisational point of view, however, these American races are really growing. They are young races, but already on the same level as races that have much more tradition.”
During Nibali’s time in the United States, Lance Armstrong announced his decision not to contest the charges of doping levelled at him by the US Anti-Doping Agency. The American stands to lose his seven Tour de France titles but Nibali was reluctant to comment on his downfall.
“It’s certainly not news that does good for cycling,” Nibali said. “I don’t feel like making a judgement on Armstrong because, for the most part, I saw his golden era on television.”