Vincenzo Nibali seems to have had enough of the Bradley Wiggins and Sky talk, and wants just to get on with racing the Tour de France. In today’s press conference, the questions centred more on Sky, and Cadel Evans’ BMC Racing team, than Nibali’s Liquigas-Cannondale team.
“The usual response,” he said to one question, regarding can Sky win both the green jersey with Mark Cavendish and the yellow jersey with Wiggins.
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“They’ve already shown to be going well all year. We have to wait 20 days, though, anything can happen. There are many other riders to take into account. You can never under-value anyone.”
Nibali won the Vuelta a España in 2010, placed third in the Giro d’Italia last year (second after Alberto Contador’s disqualification) and is running hot this year. He won the Tour of Oman’s mountain stage, the summit finish and overall in Tirreno-Adriatico and, though he just fell short, made a daring solo victory run in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Wiggins took most of the other pre-Tour stage races and Evans won the Tour last year.
“In the Critérium du Dauphiné, we saw they were so strong – Chris Froome, Brad Wiggins, Michael Rogers – especially in the long 50km time trial. However, a lot of time has passed since then, we’ll see if they can maintain that condition, if they can continue like that to the end of the Tour. The Tour is difficult. You have to be smart to manage your condition for three weeks.”
Nibali, 27 years old from Sicily, seemed mostly uninterested or tired in the press conference. The atmosphere may have been due to the time lag between responses and questions for translations. He did light up, though, when talking about tactics.
In 2010, he held close to Ezequiel Mosquera through the final stages of the Vuelta. He went head to head with him on the final mountain test, Bola del Mundo and returned to his Tuscan base a champion. He was the first Italian in 20 years to win the Vuelta. In the Giro last year, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) appeared to give up the fight once Contador took control. Nibali refused to lay down his sword, however.
“You have to save energy when you can and rely on your strong team, which we have,” Nibali explained. “You can’t lose too much time in those time trials to the specialists like Evans or Wiggins. … My style is always to attack. If I have the energy in the mountains, I’ll try to get away.”
Get away, indeed. Nibali wants to attack and get away from all the Wiggins talk. He wants to attack to place himself on the podium, if not become the first Tour winner since Marco Pantani in 1998.