Vincenzo Nibali sat smiling today in Turin at the presentation of next year’s Giro d’Italia route. The race visits his home region of Sicily to climb Mount Etna, offers plenty of other mountain stages and a chance to follow up his Vuelta a España win.
All that is left is to talk to his Liquigas team-mate Ivan Basso, winner of this year’s Giro d’Italia.
“I am sure that he already has seen the route and that we will be talking soon,” said Nibali. “I am curious to hear what he has to say.”
Basso is in Mexico to race a post-season criterium, but already reviewed an advance copy of the route. He has compared it to the Tour de France’s route that he received at the presentation on Tuesday in Paris. It is likely he will skip the Giro d’Italia to focus on the Tour de France and let Nibali lead team Liquigas.
Besides helping Basso win the Giro this year, Nibali won a stage, spent three days in the leader’s pink jersey and finished third overall. He used it as a confidence booster to win Spain’s three-week race last month, the Vuelta a España. He is now ready to win at home.
This Giro d’Italia may be the one for Nibali with three time trial stages and seven mountaintop finishes, including that one in Sicily.
“A Giro for me? It can be because it is a hard one and, plus, has that stage to Etna,” said Nibali. “The stage starts from my home town in Messina.”
After the start in Messina, the riders will have to climb up Europe’s most active volcano twice: once to Lenza at 1631 metres and the finish to Rifugio Sapienza at 1904 metres.
“I still need to study the stage well. I don’t know the climb up from the south [to Rifugio Sapienza]. It will be an important stage and I expect to have many fans out there cheering me on that day. It will help re-launch cycling in Sicily.”
The race heads north for a traditional third week ride through the Dolomites and Alps. Nibali noted the Zoncolan stage where this year Basso won and the stage to Gardeccia.
“There are five climbs that day to Gardeccia,” he said. “It will wear us down slowly.”
He left Turin to return to his home in Tuscany, but he is already planning to preview the stages. He just needs to talk to Ivan Basso first and receive the final ‘OK’ from Liquigas that he will be the leader.