Vincenzo Nibali can remain calm as he heads towards the Giro d’Italia, according to his Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli. The two have more work planned to be able to handle Sky and Bradley Wiggins in May.
The normal talkative Nibali lacked words when he stopped following yesterday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage to Chieti.
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Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) won the stage and Chris Froome (Sky) took the overall lead. Nibali lost time, but chased to get back on. He sits third in the GC, tied on time with Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) in second overall at 20 seconds behind Froome.
Though sunny, cold air filled Chieti’s narrow streets. Nibali put on a heavier jacket. He paused long enough to say, “I felt the pressure from Sky today, they were truly strong. I was tired.”
Martinelli watched the final of Paris-Nice back at the team bus. Once it was over, he talked about Nibali.
“We can here up against a big battle, there’s Froome, Contador, Rodríguez… You have to take that into consideration also. At this moment, Vincenzo lacks a little something, but I’m happy with how it is,” Martini explained.
“We started the season with different aims; the goal is the Giro d’Italia. Of those who want to win the Gir, he’s the strongest now. You have to think of that. Wiggins is not racing now. Maybe he’ll win in the Tour of Catalonia, who knows, but we are not talking about people here who are just training.”
Sky put on an impressive show for Froome over the last two days. Dario Cataldo, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán pulled along the peloton over the final kilometres to deliver their leader.
Other teams appeared paralysed or unwilling to respond. Besides, in the last kilometres, the other leaders, including Nibali, were isolated.
Martinelli said that even if they wanted to, Astana’s riders would not be able to do the same for Nibali as Sky is doing for Froome. However, he added that this is March, with both the Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice taking place. In May, he will bring Astana’s A-team for Nibali.
“I think that there’s not one team here that can do what Sky’s doing. They are the strongest team and we just have to stay there to try to take advantage of their work,” Martinelli continued.
“If it’s the same at the Giro for Wiggins, we’ll just stay on their wheels and they’ll pull. There’s no problem. For sure, though, at the Giro we’ll have a better team.”
“Yeah, we could do what they’re doing [in the Giro]. We can do better than what we are doing now as a team.”
Nibali’s focus is different. Last year, he took the Green Mountain stage in the Tour of Oman and in Tirreno-Adriatico, won the Prati di Tivo and overall.
He skipped the Giro for the Tour de France, where he placed third behind Wiggins and Froome. This year, Martinelli is taking the Sicilian back to his roots to race the Giro. The Tour, if he races, comes secondary.