Defending Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has said that he is in better form than last year ahead of the 100th edition of the race, but still tips Nairo Quintana (Movistar) as the favourite.
Speaking ahead of the start of the race today, Nibali said that he went into last year’s Giro with fatigue his legs as he beat Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) to win, and was looking forward to starting in better condition this year.
“I feel similar to last year, but slightly better,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Last year I had Trentino and Liège in my legs, but I felt blocked, like a stalled car. The numbers were there, but something was wrong. Now I feel agile and free.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2017 preview: stages one to nine
However despite feeling in better shape than last year, Nibali still believes that Quintana will be the man to beat in the mountains over the next three weeks.
“He [Quintana] is one of the strongest climbers. He is the favourite and the man to beat, but maybe at some point he will have a weak point.
“But I do not only have to watch. It will be unpredictable with Thomas, Dumoulin, Mollema, Kruijswijk, Yates, Pinot Van Garderen…”
Nibali goes into the race with the bookies seeing him as a second favourite behind Quintana, having won the Tour of Croatia in late April.
Stage one of the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia runs from Alghero to Olbia, with a bunch sprint expected to decide the destination of the first pink jersey.