Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) can climb the high Alpine passes with ease, but he wants to take advantage of Team Sky rival Mikel Landa in the Chianti time trial mid-way through the Giro d’Italia this month. He says it is Landa’s “weak point” in the Giro that starts tomorrow in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.
After winning the Tour de France in 2014, the 31-year-old Sicilian is back to target a second Giro d’Italia title to add to his 2013 victory. Standing in his way are rivals like Spaniard Landa, who placed third last year helping then Astana teammate Fabio Aru to second place behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).
“It’s in my favour, clearly,” Nibali said of the 40.5km time trial coming on stage nine.
Nibali odds are 11/8, according to Bet365. Landa is listed close behind at 2/1, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 13/2 and Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale) 13/1.
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Sky signed Landa over the winter with the Giro d’Italia in mind. However, the British WorldTour team knew he had to work on his time trialling if he is to have a chance at winning a Grand Tour.
Last year, he lost four minutes to Alberto Contador in the Giro’s long time trial.
With only one test so far, when he placed two minutes back in a País Vasco stage, it is uncertain how much Landa has improved. His climbing appears to be as good as ever, however, as he just won the overall of the mountainous Giro del Trentino.
Nibali, perhaps fearing the two are equally matched in the mountains, aims at the time trial through the hills south of Florence in the Giro’s second week.
“Landa said that the last week’s mountains favour him? The last week is hard for everyone, I don’t believe it favours anyone,” Nibali added.
“Landa is a great climber. He showed last year, especially in the last week. He’s the man to beat.
“Important stages are those in the mountains, for sure, but at times it’s those simple stages that can be the most dangerous. You have to be ready all the time. The first one could be the time trial.
“There are hard fast bits downhill and changes in rhythm with the uphill sections. Already, you can see there who’s a player for the overall; who can ride for 21 days.”