Italian GC rider looks set to take on the Tour after disastrous Giro d'Italia
The Aru/Giro flop completed the first half of the 2018 season with UAE Team Emirates, where he is earning around €2.5 million. The highlight: a fourth place in the Tirreno-Adriatico‘s Sassotetto stage.
Aru won the 2015 Vuelta a España, placed second in the 2015 Giro, and claimed the La Planche des Belles Filles stage and Tour de France’s yellow jersey for two days in 2017.
However in the 2018 Giro, he suffered throughout with a surprising eighth in the time trial being his best result until the jury slapped him with a fine and time penalty for motor pacing in that stage. He abandoned in stage 19 when Chris Froome was riding away solo to claim the Giro lead.
According to a report in Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, the team is planning on taking Aru to the Tour which starts on July 7. They would field him in its eight-man Tour roster alongside Dan Martin, Rui Costa and Alexander Kristoff.
“If I was Fabio or those that manage him, I wouldn’t put the Tour on the schedule,” said Giuseppe Martinelli, who manages Aru’s former team Astana. “It’s too demanding, too much pressure, even if he doesn’t go there to race for the classification.”
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide
Martin placed sixth in the 2017 Tour. He joined this year from Quick-Step Floors with one goal – to lead the UAE Emirates Tour team. Kristoff, who is responsible for all of the team’s three wins this season, will sprint for stages. Costa will try for escape victories. It is uncertain how, or if, Aru could help them in their goals.
In a meeting planned for next week, the team will consider Aru racing without the “captain” label and the associated pressure. The other option would be to wait and race Aru in the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 25, ahead of the climber-friendly World Championships in Innsbruck in September.
“At the end of this month is the Italian championship. It’s not very hard, but Fabio with the number one on his back has to show up with the necessary form to honour the race,” Martinelli added. “It’d be better to restart softly, not necessarily in a WorldTour race, and build toward the Vuelta and end of season.”
Fellow Italian GC rider Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – winner of all three Grand Tours and the 2018 Milan-San Remo – watched the Giro and his former team-mate’s struggles on television while building for the Tour.
“He looked pretty upset,” Nibali said. “It’s normal since he was the captain. It’s difficult to give advice now. “I know that when I need to relax mentally, a little bit of space, I go for a week in Sicily. It’s a way to reboot and get that right mindset.”
Aru could push through to the end of July, training around his home in Lugano, Switzerland. To be ready for the Tour, UAE Team Emirates could enter him in the Adriatica-Ionica, the new Italian stage race in the third week of June, as the final test.