Sagan and Nibali feeling confident on eve of Amstel Gold Race
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sagan and Nibali feeling confident on eve of Amstel Gold Race

by VeloNation Press at 2:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Liquigas Cannondale duo believe their pooled strength could win out tomorrow

Peter SaganProminent in Milan-Sanremo, the pairing of Peter Sagan and Vinceno Nibali will try to pull off an important victory tomorrow in the Amstel Gold Race.

The Liquigas Cannondale riders are both in good shape and highly motivated heading into the Dutch WorldTour race, and believe that the one-two tactics they can play could make a big difference in the finale.

Many other teams have just one leader; the Liquigas Cannondale duo knows that each are capable of winning, and this hands them an advantage against their rivals.

Sagan had a tough first experience of the race, placing only 98th last year. However he was just 21 years of age at the time and is still building up the endurance which will put him in prime position in the Classics in the years to come.

Fourth place in Milan-Sanremo and fifth in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen show that he now has that strength over distance, and this should put him in the frame tomorrow.

“From my first experience in 2011 I remember it being an exhausting race, “ he said. “I came into the race off an intense schedule that had concluded with the “Roubaix”, and I ran out of gas after 200 kilometres.

“It was important for me though because I understood that the race suits my style of riding. I remember it like the “Flanders” without the pavé: short, explosive climbs that need to be attacked with powerful riding.”

Sagan has already clocked up four victories this year, taking a stage plus the points classification in the Tour of Oman, as well as a stage in both Tirreno Adriatico and the Three Days of De Panne.

He and the team covered forty kilometres of the course this morning, taking in the final eight climbs. The ride both loosened their legs and also gave a further chance to analyse the key points of the demanding course.

“We rode the final phases of the race this morning so we could memorise the trickiest parts; those are where we’ll need to closely mark the favourites,” he said. “I’m in good condition; I just hope my injuries from the fall in last Wednesday’s Brabant se don’t bother me too much: the bruises have gone but the scratches are still a bit sore, especially the ones on my back and thigh.”

Nibali has had a different preparation to his team-mate, choosing to train instead of compete after finishing third in Milan-Sanremo. He is aiming for all three Ardennes Classics, so wanted to make sure he’d good reserves heading into the races.

Vincenzo NibaliThe 2010 Vuelta a Espana winner showed well early on this season, winning a stage plus the overall in Tirreno-Adriatic, taking a stage and the runner-up GC slot in the Tour of Oman and then finishing third behind Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack) in Milan-Sanremo. He feels ready for tomorrow’s race, but knows that concentration is as important as good legs.

“I know these roads well and the difficulties posed by the route,” he explained. “Narrow roads, traffic islands and bottlenecks. You have to fight to keep your position at the head of the group, and if you get stuck behind when there is a crash, you have to ride twice as hard to get back to front.

“It will be a nervous race, as always, and you need maximum concentration from the first kilometre. If you want to win, you need to follow these rules and have good enough legs to make the difference.”

Fortunately he believes that the latter won’t be a problem. “I feel good: I’ve been working in the mountains to keep up my condition from the “Tirreno” and the desire to win the first Classic of my career is massive. It’s not my style to make assertions though, particularly when there is an unknown factor like the route change on the final climbs.

“I’ll be joining the battle with the main contenders, conscious of the fact that I’ve got a teammate like Sagan in the squad who is also a favourite: we’ll join forces to try and bring home a win for the team.”

The Slovakia also underlines the shared leadership, making it clear that the race is about two riders, not just himself.

“I’m confident, but this is a selective race that will only let strong riders shine,” he said. “Then again, not many teams have a duo like me and Nibali...”

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