Vincenzo Nibali is similar to Marco Pantani, says Astana manager

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 20, Giro d'Italia 2013

Vincenzo Nibali will give Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli another Grand Tour win tomorrow when he arrives in Brescia. In Martinelli's hometown, the duo will toast the Giro d'Italia win and a ride that started with Marco Pantani in 1998.

"Pantani is similar to Nibali, or Nibali is similar to Pantani," Martinelli told Cycling Weekly "It's his creative way of racing and reading the race. He has his own ideas, not to do things by the book."

Nibali rode an aggressive race. Despite having the race leader's pink jersey, he attacked to gain further time on his rivals.

After the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage today, he leads by four minutes and 43 seconds over second-placed Rigoberto Uran (Sky).

Comparing Nibali to some of Martinelli's former cyclists may be dangerous considering their doping cases. However, it is worth a look.

Martinelli won a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics for Italy and three stages of the Giro d'Italia. As a director, he guided Pantani, Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego to overall wins. He also helped Pantani and Contador win the Tour de France. Contador later lost his 2010 title due to a doping positive.

"I can't really take credit for Contador, who came to my team already a champion," added Martinelli. "I didn't have a chance to work with him. I only took advantage of what he already knew. He had some good directors guiding him before joining my team."

Martinelli worked hard to bring in Nibali from team Liquigas after his third place in the Tour de France last year. In fact, the deal was reportedly done before the race.

"After his 2010 Vuelta a España win, I was thinking this was a rider we needed and that we should do all we can to sign him," Martinelli said last fall.

"More than once, I spoke with my managers, but, you know, they were in love with Contador - which was normal, I was too - but I said, 'Look guys, we are going to have trouble keeping Contador. One of the riders out there, with the ability to win a Grand Tour is Nibali.' I kept repeating it, and they started to reconsider, which was helped by winning the Vuelta, placing third in the Giro the following year and third in the Tour."

At the Giro, Nibali seems comfortable in Astana colours. Different than Wiggins on his way to a Tour win, Nibali is laughing and enjoying the race lead.

"He's in an ideal team and can play his game here. He can dictate his attacking way of racing and competing," Martinelli continued this week.

"He can't feel stressed in this team, it's built for him. Then, when things are going well, everything's always easy."

Martinelli's name lives on. Davide Martinelli, 19, rode as a trainee for Sky last fall and said that he would like to join them for 2014.

"I think they want engines, 'una passista,'" he told Cycling Weekly. "I think that I could fill that role in the first years and be a good domestique."

Giro d'Italia 2013: Previews and race info

Giro d'Italia 2013: Coverage index

Giro d'Italia 2013: British TV schedule

Giro d'Italia 2013: 10 things you need to know

Giro d'Italia 2013: The Big Preview

Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage reports

Stage 20: Nibali wins to close in on overall win

Stage 19: No report, stage cancelled

Stage 18: Nibali wins time trial to extend leadStage 17: Visconti wins from escape

Stage 16: Intxausti continues Movistar's successful Giro with stage win

Stage 15: Visconti wins Galibier stage

Stage 14: Santambrogio wins and Nibali strengthens lead

Stage 13: Cavendish takes his fourth stage win of 2013 Giro

Stage 12: Cavendish takes 100th win as Wiggins' Giro bid faltrs

Stage 11: Navardauskas wins as favourites enjoy day off

Stage 10: Uran wins as Wiggins and Hesjedal lose time

Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure

Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead

Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins

Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro

Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win

Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage winStage three: Paolini takes charge

Stage two: Sky wins team time trial

Stage one: Cavendish wins opener

Giro d'Italia 2013: Photo galleries

Photos by Graham Watson

Stage 20 gallery

Stage 19 cancelled

Stage 18 gallery

Stage 17 gallery

Stage 16 gallery

Stage 15 gallery

Stage 14 gallery

Stage 13 gallery

Stage 12 gallery

Stage 11 gallery

Stage 10 gallery

Stage nine gallery

Stage eight gallery

Stage seven gallery

Stage six gallery

Stage five gallery

Stage four gallery

Stage three gallery

Stage two gallery

Stage one gallery

Team presentation gallery


Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.