Nibali: Surprise of Giro d’Italia, as Contador was in 2008?

Vincenzo Nibali may be the surprise winner of this year’s Giro d’Italia as was Alberto Contador two years ago. Team Liquigas called the 25-year-old Italian to race only five days ahead of the Giro d’Italia, similar to Contador’s situation in 2008.

Contador had won the Tour de France the year before his Giro d’Italia win, but Nibali finished seventh last year at the Tour de France and has shown his stage racing capacity. After the first weekend’s racing, he is only eight seconds back in the overall, better than Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and his team-mate Ivan Basso.

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“The true captain is Basso, as the team has always said. He trained well for this Giro every since this winter. Instead, I arrived at the last moment,” Nibali told Cycling Weekly.

“It was not on my schedule, I have not prepared well for it and I don’t even know the mountain stages well, I haven’t gone to preview them. After the stage to Terminillo [stage eight], I will consider racing for the classification or letting it all go to try for stage wins.”

Organiser RCS Sport invited Contador’s Astana team with just over one week to the start of the 2008 race. The Spaniard, who had been on holiday prior to the race, took control from the Urbino time trial and never let go. Astana lacked an invitation to the Tour de France, but Contador went on to win the Vuelta a España later that year.

“We hope he can be a winner of this year’s Giro d’Italia, there was a precedent like Contador,” said sports director, Stefano Zanatta.

“Just because these guys are on vacation doesn’t mean they forget how to ride. Whether it is Contador or Vincenzo, they go out training even if they are having a few days of relaxation. Maybe he will lack a little bit of rhythm in some stages, but if he has the ability to win then team will support him for the Giro d’Italia win.”

Liquigas meant for Basso and Franco Pellizotti to lead the Giro d’Italia, with Basso, Nibali and Roman Kreuziger leading at the Tour de France. Liquigas asked Nibali to race after the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) stopped Pellizotti from racing due to irregular biological passport numbers.

“The captain is Ivan, he is the one who prepared for the Giro the best,” continued Zanatta. “Vincenzo could be a second option if he shows to have the legs. Until he shows otherwise, we will use him as a co-captain like we had planned to do with Pellizotti.”

Zanatta explained that the team will evaluate how Nibali recovers from the Giro d’Italia to determine if he races the Tour de France. Though, the plan is that he will still be one of three leaders for the Tour de France.

“Only if he spends a lot of energy to fight for a possible win, then maybe will determine that he doesn’t have the strength to go to the Tour.”

“We are at the Giro and I just want to concentrate on this race,” added Nibali. “I want to race the Tour, it’s in my programme.”

Related links

Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit

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