Vincenzo Nibali has accepted that Simon Yates was not looking to offend his Giro d’Italia rivals when he suggested that he was in such good shape that they "should be shitting themselves", with the Bahrain-Merida leader accepting that "a little bit of pepper in the interviews is never a bad thing."
Nibali and Yates swapped barbs after the stage 1 time trial on Saturday, with Nibali saying: "We’ve got to show respect for everyone who is fighting for victory in the Giro."
Yates responded: "I respect all of my rivals greatly, I didn’t mean to disrespect anybody."
The Mitchelton-Scott rider was keen to move on from any Giro d’Italia polemica on Sunday before stage 2, but made it clear he would not look for Nibali to clear the air and make up.
"Why do I need to catch up with him? I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. And if he’s taken it that way, then it is what it is," Yates said at the start in Bologna.
Yates and Nibali signed on just after each other in Bologna but there was no contact or chat to clear the air and end the polemica. Nibali was also ready to move but had noted that Yates is serious about targeting overall victory at the Giro d’Italia.
"I'm not offended by what he said. It's a pleasure to know that there's a leader like that, motivated and a reference point in the group," Nibali said. "For sure, it was ironic [what Yates said]. You also have to see how the media reported and amplified it.
“It's okay that everyone say what they wants. And little bit of pepper in the interviews is never a bad thing. It’s just important to not go too far.
"Maybe he was a little over the top. I’ve always tried not go over the top and say too much. It's unlikely that I’d give such a direct response like that. It’s not my style."
No room for allies in the Giro d’Italia
Nibali dismissed the idea that he and Yates could become valuable allies later in the Giro d’Italia when they have to compete against Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin.
"There’s not much room for allies in this Giro. There are a lot of riders looking for a big result and so they’ll all race to win," Nibali said.