Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is closing in on his first Giro d’Italia without a stage win. Past champions before, including Ryder Hesjedal last year, crowned their victories with a win in one of the races famous Alpine mountain legs.
“I think I can win one of the big mountain stages or the time trial [today],” Nibali explained in press conference yesterday.
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“It’s always hard to win those. I also have to defend an important jersey, which I’ve been wearing for already many days. My goal is to take time on my rivals, and if there’s a chance to win a stage, then I’ll try.”
Nibali gifted the Jafferau stage to fellow Italian, Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) on Saturday. The duo escaped and worked together to achieve their goals: Nibali time on rivals, Santambrogio a stage win.
Time is running out for Nibali. Today’s mountain time trial and two high-mountain stages, Val Martello and Tre Cime di Lavaredo remain.
Bad weather, however, may cut the meat out of those tests. Race technical director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly on Tuesday that the Gavia and Stelvio passes are at risk and that he may re-route cyclists through the valleys to reach Val Martello. He added that he might have to cancel the Giro’s jewel, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, because it could be impossible to reach.
Tomorrow, snow and freezing temperatures are expected at Passo dello Stelvio, the race’s highest climb at 2758 metres.
Taking such famous passi out of the Giro would lessen Nibali’s win.
Nibali explained without them, it would be easier to control his 1-26-minute lead over Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). But he added, “It’s hard to say if I’d feel like the winner.”
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