Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) aims to hit restart in the 2019 season after his "darkest moments" yet cycling in 2018.
"I want to cancel 2018, one of the darkest moments of my career," Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport when he reflected on his plan to race the 2019 Giro d'Italia this May.
One year ago, Aru built for the Giro as well. He never found his form and struggled throughout the race to show that spark that allowed him to place second overall to Alberto Contador in the 2015 Giro or win the 2015 Vuelta a España.
He rode steady throughout the 2018 Vuelta, but a crash stood out in the three weeks. He created a media storm when he stood from his fall and began cursing his team-sponsored Colnago bike.
A new season programme, coaches and trip to the US give him a fresh approach to 2019. He will need it because the Giro d'Italia, May 11 to June 2, includes top contenders – from Tom Dumoulin to Vincenzo Nibali – and plenty of time trial kilometres mixed with mountains.
"Mamma mia it's a beautiful start list... but that's the way it has been for years now," he said.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, the Welsh winner of the Tour de France last year, is rumoured to start as well. Team-mate Chris Froome won the 2018 Giro, the first Brit to do so.
"I have never hidden that this race is in my heart, you feel unique emotions," Aru continued.
"The programme is set until the Giro. For the Tour, we'll see. It is important to start [the season], and immediately."
He said that his struggles to absorb pasta and carbohydrates well led to some of his problems. He now limits their intake and avoids dairy products.
UAE Team Emirates also shook up the team. New directors Allan Peiper and Neil Stephens arrived and coaches from the University of Colorado now follow the team.
After Aru races in Mallorca, Algarve and Catalonia, he will train at altitude in Colorado, in the US, for his final push towards the Giro.
"We are followed by coaches from the University of Boulder, our head coach Iñigo San Millan has lived there for years. And, coincidentally, I had my first race in the pros, as an stagiaire: it was the Tour of Colorado 2012, I finished second in a stage," Aru said.
"I'm getting along very well with the new staff and coaches. I like that the human aspect, serenity, is taken into consideration, even before preparation and performance.
"Too many times we talk about numbers, we think too much about the tests and watts, but to reach these numbers you have to feel good and be calm. And now I feel good."
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