Nibali gunning for improvement in tomorrow’s Flèche Wallonne
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nibali gunning for improvement in tomorrow’s Flèche Wallonne

by Shane Stokes at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne
 
Lack of racing may explain disappointing Amstel Gold performance

Vincenzo NibaliDisappointed with his showing in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, Italian climber Vincenzo Nibali heads into tomorrow’s Flèche Wallonne hoping to be in a position to fight for the win.

The Liquigas Cannondale rider has shown strong form this year and so his 104th place, seven minutes behind the winner Enrico Gasparatto (Astana), was a big surprise to both him and his supporters.

All pointers had been to a good performance: he started the year off with fourth in the Tour de San Luis, then placed second in the Tour of Oman, won Tirreno Adriatico and then sparked off the winning move in Milan Sanremo.

However, after taking third in the latter, he took a break from competition and instead did a block of training to prepare for his next targets.

The possibility is that lack of racing meant that he lacked sharpness on Sunday. The rusty performance in Amstel may serve to open him up and to prime his system for Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“On Sunday I wasn’t competitive as I wanted,” he admitted. “But for sure was a useful test after the mountain training camp. My hope for tomorrow is to be more explosive and to be able to face changes in rhythm more easily, especially on the Mur de Huy.

“That’s the point to make the difference, and not only with the legs. You’ve to be sharp-witted to understand the right moment to move, the tactical situation and the other riders.”

Cadel Evans proved that perfectly when he won the race IN 2010. Having made his move too early in 2009 and being passed by four riders, including race winner Davide Rebellin, he timed things much better the following year.

When Alberto Contador answered a surge by Igor Anton and tore clear, Evans waited. He let the two open a considerable gap, then gradually upped his pace and hunted them down before the line.

As Nibali states, success in Flèche Wallonne is as much about tactics as it is about strength.

He will be the leader of the team and will be backed by Stefano Agostini, Damiano Caruso, Federico Canuti, Dominik Nerz, Maciej Paterski, Daniele Ratto and the impressive neo-pro Moreno Moser.

Directeur sportif Alberto Volpi believes that a good performance could lie ahead. “Vincenzo rode the Amstel as his first race after one month, and additionally it was on a very nervous course. I think at Flèche we’ll see an improvement, and above all in view of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

If so, it will continue his progression in the race. He was 112th back in 2006, then finished 31st in 2009 and twelfth in 2010. Little by little, he's getting closer.

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