As the race enters the concluding mountain days, Nibali is expected to gamble everything for a third Giro title. He currently sits second overall, just 1 minute 54 seconds behind race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team).
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
“I’ve come to a moment where I’ve already won two editions of the Giro. I’m here. I certainly want to fight for a third Giro,” Nibali said, surrounded by fans at his red Bahrain-Merida team bus.
“Given what I’ve done before and where I am, winning or losing counts a lot more. Finishing second or third doesn’t count for anything.”
In the last mountain days, specifically on Mortirolo, Nibali fought his way up to second overall. He moved ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who sits third overall at 2-16.
“But I have to see what the legs say, and I also have to have respect for the team which has always given me great support these past days. I have to think about what they’ve given for me out of a sense of respect for them,” Nibali continued.
“But obviously I don’t know how I’ll be in two days. If the legs aren’t there it would be difficult to make an attack like Chris Froome’s,” he said, referring to the then Team Sky rider’s unforgettable race winning breakaway. “It’s hard, they’re very risky attacks because you [can] just blow up completely and lose everything,” Nibali added.
During stage 19 last year, Froome rode away solo with 80 kilometres to go, turning a 3-22-minute deficit into a pink jersey lead. He won the race two days later in Rome.
“You need the legs as well to do an attack like that,” added Nibali. “You need a really strong team that sets down a really high tempo. I’ll have to see how my team mates are, we’ll have to see and decide how to play our cards.
“Every Giro has its own story, every race has its own story, and every stage has its own story, it’s not straightforward.”
Ahead in the 2019 edition, the San Martino di Castrozza and the Monte Avena mountain stages remain.
High expectations are being placed on Saturday’s stage, with 4000 metres of climbing and the final Avena summit finish as the true test. On Sunday, a 17km time trial ends the race in Verona.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Nibali responded when asked how he could win the Giro.
“There are these two days coming up that are very difficult. You know, at the end of the Giro, the energy levels are what they are for everybody. Some people have a bit more others a bit less but it’s not easy.
“We have to take on three very difficult days. We’ll see. I’ve nothing to lose. Whatever happens, va bene [all right].”