Fabio Aru

 (Picture: UAE Team Emirates)

Nationality: Italian
Date of birth: July 3, 1990
Height: 181cm
Weight: 61.5kg
Team: UAE Team Emirates

Having signed for the Astana team in 2012, Fabio Aru has steadily established himself as Grand Tour contender, making his breakthrough ride in the 2014 Giro d’Italia where he won a stage and finished third overall.

In 2015, Aru went one better in the Giro and won two stages and placed second overall behind the far more established Grand Tour star Alberto Contador, just one minute and 53 seconds behind.

Next stop was the 2015 Vuelta a España, where Aru has put in a solid performance to take his first first Grand Tour victory.

The following year he gained only a single victory, with a stage win at the Critérium du Dauphiné. After a strong early performance in that years tour, he suffered an illness on the final mountain stage and lost 13 minutes to his rivals, finishing 13th overall.

Fabio Aru had a frustrating start to the 2017 season, when a crash and resulting knee injury meant he was unable to train in the final weeks leading up to the Giro d’Italia subsequently missing the race.

He returned in time for the Critérium du Dauphiné, taking fifth place, 1-37 back on his team mate Jakob Fuglsang.

He drew attention at the 2017 Tour de France when he attacked on the summit finish to La Planche des Belles Filles, on stage five. This led to a stage win, and left the prime GC contenders facing havoc in his wake as their group splintered to give way to the first major gaps in the overall. Here, Aru moved into second place behind Chris Froome (Team Sky). 

The Astana rider raised eyebrows on stage nine when he appeared to attack the yellow jersey immediately after Froome raised his hand for a mechanical – though he claimed he was unaware of the leader’s issue.

Aru lost an important team mate in Dario Cataldo who crashed out on stage 11, but the following day he attacked in the final 300 metres of the summit finish, stealing the yellow jersey from the dominant Sky rider, before losing it on stage 14 and sinking further down the GC on stage 17. 

Stage 18 saw Aru’s chances of becoming the Tour de France champ all but diminish after dropping down to fifth and losing more time on his rivals. He was never able to claw back the difference, eventually rolling into Paris in fifth on the GC, behind Team Sky’s Mikel Landa.

After six seasons with Astana, he transitioned to UAE Team Emirates for 2018. The repeating pattern of under-performing at Grand Tours continued into 2018, eventually withdrawing on stage 19 of the Giro after suffering from fatigue. Similar troubles occurred at the Vuelta, eventually finishing well behind eventual winner Simon Yates.

Aru suffered even more difficulty in 2019 when he was diagnosed with a constriction of the iliac artery. This forced him off the bike for several months. His comeback in June revealed his lost form, finishing 22nd at the Gran Premio di Lugano. He failed to gain a top ten position on any stage at the Tour de France and finished 14th overall.

Aru’s strength lies as a climber, where his bobbing riding style and trademark face-pulling may look untidy but is evidently effective. Only time will tell whether the Italian is able to overcome his difficulties and win a Grand Tour.

Major wins: 2015 Vuelta a España