Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has yet to win in 2019, but says his form is “right where it needs to be” as he aims for a third Giro d’Italia title.
Nibali won the race in 2013 and 2016 in addition to the 2014 Tour de France and 2010 Vuelta a España. He was last seen firing in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and in the Tour of the Alps, trying to upset the Team Ineos duo Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
He will return to his home Grand Tour this weekend, as the race kicks off with a short time trial in Bologna on Saturday (May 11).
“I’ve always done the same amount of training that I’ve done before other races but sometimes your body responds a bit better. This year I haven’t changed much but it seems that my condition is right where it needs to be,” Nibali said during a pre-Giro press conference. “My form this year is good and I’ve worked so much to get to that form.”
Nibali launched attack after attack in the Tour of the Alps to earn third overall.
In Liège the following Sunday he rode to eighth place, as the riding style that earned him ‘The Shark’ nick-name surfaced just in time.
Nibali will face strong challenges from stars like 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
“The Giro was the first biggest stage race that I took on and it’s been the race that have dreamed about since I was a kid,” Nibali added.
“And it’s a race I won twice, so I’ve accomplished that dream and it brings a lot of emotion and I want that emotion of winning again.
“The race has always been a home race and you can feel all the fans’ respect and passion so that helps you give that extra bit.”
The high mountains do not appear on the menu until the 13th stage to Lago Serrù. The Sicilian can handle the nervousness of a tight general classification and the stress of Italy’s tricky roads, but the time trials could be his downfall.
“There are three time trials that are very difficult and that one to San Marino [stage nine, 34.8 kilometres] is the most difficult. I will have to take that on in the best way possible.”
The race opens with an eight-kilometre time trial to the San Luca Sanctuary above Bologna and ends with another TT, this time 17km in Verona.
“And there are the mountains too,” continued. “At the moment it’s difficult to say which stage will cause the biggest surprise, there’s a lot of difficult stages along the road.”