Italian Vincenzo Nibali is planning his tactics ahead of the World Championship road race on Sunday in Valkenburg, The Netherlands. Lead or follow? Early or Later? Solo or small group?
“I can try different things in this race, which means going two laps to go or one lap to go,” he told Cycling Weekly. “It’s important to not arrive to the finish with the best.”
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The 27-year-old Sicilian will lead team Italy, one year after Mark Cavendish capped off Great Britain’s work in Copenhagen and two years after his last appearance in Geelong, Australia.
The Cauberg climb – 1.2km and 5.8% – ends the race, but also features 10 times beforehand. Unlike the Amstel Gold Race, where it features three times, including the finish, the cyclists still need to race 1500 metres after the climb tops out.
“We all know the climb, the Cauberg, and right afterwards the finish comes. Anything can happen on those 1000 metres. The last worlds I did, in Australia, was hard, but very different compared to this,” Nibali added.
“The finish line is fine how it is. Maybe I’d be better for me on the top of the Cauberg, but then that changes how the race develops before the climb. It’s up to us to make the race hard or not.”
Nibali explained that the Italian team will not control the race, that will be for Spain and Belgium. It will defend, he said, and make sure it has a man in every important escape. Because he is not a strong sprinter, he will need to be concerned about the dynamics of any winning group he may be a part of over the final ascent of the Cauberg.
“I’m a little limited an early attack because I lack a sprint. I’ll try to do something,” he continued.
He usually comes to Amstel Gold after an altitude training camp and suffers, but rides better in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. With trade team Liquigas-Cannondale, he went on a long solo drive to win Liège this year, but saw Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) pass with just 1.3km remaining.
“We know how Liège unwinds and the hard points, but here it’s sort of an unknown. However, I suspect the race will explode with two laps remaining. Someone will make an acceleration, which will line the race out and cause an explosion. From there, it’s a matter of making the final selection and the finish. Pay attention, in the last days, there’s been a head-wind on the top of the Cauberg.”