Liquigas-Cannondale’s training camp in Sardinia ends tomorrow and its riders leave with a clear vision of the new year. Vuelta a España champion Vincenzo Nibali will race to win the Giro d’Italia, and 2010 Giro champion Ivan Basso will do the same at the Tour de France.
Nibali “is mature and knows his value. In the summer, before the Vuelta, he said, ‘I’m going to Spain to win,'” Team Manager Roberto Amadio told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. “Now, speaking of the 2011 Giro, he says, ‘I want to race the Giro because I can win.'”
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The Sicilian won the three-week Vuelta a España in September, the first Italian to do so in 20 years. The performance came after a breakthrough Giro d’Italia in May. He helped team-mate Ivan Basso win the race and for himself, won a stage, wore the race leader’s pink jersey and finished third overall.
Sky’s Bradley Wiggins wore the pink jersey after day one, when he won the opening time trial in Amsterdam.
Nibali will now have his chance to lead the team at the Giro d’Italia because Basso wants to try to win the Tour de France in July. Basso has already finished third and second behind Lance Armstrong in 2004 and 2005. An asterisk, though, followed the results, since it came before he was implicated in the Operación Puerto doping investigation.
Basso showed he can win clean at the Giro d’Italia this year and is ready to do so at the Tour de France.
“He is the best of all my cyclists for his professionalism and dedication,” added Amadio. “We will leave open the possibility that he races the Giro until Liège-Bastogne-Liège [April 24]. But it is clear that at this moment in the career, he is looking towards the Tour.
“He is convinced, given the route and how cycling is now, that this is his chance. And the wish to bring the yellow jersey to the grave of Aldo Sassi will be a further boost.”
Sassi died on December 12 after suffering from brain cancer. He started working with Basso in 2008 to help him return from his doping suspension.
Amadio will present the entire Liquigas-Cannondale team on January 10 in Milan. Look for interviews with Nibali in the upcoming issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Weekly.