By Gregor Brown
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) defended his outburst aimed at Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) after stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia 2019, saying the first day in the mountains had been a hard day and that he showed his true character.
Upset that Roglič had not been helping pull in an elite group on the Lago Serrù climb, Nibali explained that he said to Roglič that he had been upset with his attitude.
"My true character came out, it had been a hard day for us all," the Sicilian said ahead of stage 14, another mountain day in the Alps.
"We were trying to control an attack by Mikel Landa, so we should have all worked together until the finish and limit the time loss."
Roglič sits second overall and tops the list of eventual contenders for the GC. He leads Nibali, who won the Giro in 2013 and 2016, by 1-44 minutes.
The stage 13 summit finish was above 2200 metres but tempers were still hot, as Nibali stopped pulling at one point on the 20km climb to Lago Serrù and let Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) ride free. After they had crossed the finish line, Roglič reached out to shake Nibali's hand, but the latter pulled his hand away and kept riding.
Whilst Roglič declined to talk to the press after the race, Nibali told the media: "I said listen, Roglič, if you want to come and take photos at my house, I'll show you my trophies whenever you want.
"I don't need to prove anything. But he understood that I wasn't going to do anything, that I was a bit fed up of the attitude that he had. After that he started to work.
"I think if he wants to win this Giro, that's not the way he should ride."
Fans and followers welcomed Nibali's grit as he aims for a third Giro d'Italia title."We swapped a few word it's true, but it's all part of the game, we're fighting to win the Giro d'Italia," the Italian added this morning.
"It's happened in races before, who doesn't remember the battles between Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni? They had colourful exchanges via the media too too."
Journalists yesterday looked to Jumbo-Visma sports director, Addy Engels, when Roglič would not speak.
"It's not about not wanting to ride, it's about spending the energy the best way possible," Engels said of Roglič's decision not to work.
"I don't see it like that [Vincenzo versus Primož], we still have hard days to come. For sure there are a lot of guys still in the game."