Vincenzo Nibali: “We need to separate Wiggins and Froome from their teammates”
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vincenzo Nibali: “We need to separate Wiggins and Froome from their teammates”

by Ben Atkins at 6:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
The Shark refuses to panic over deficit to Team Sky riders after Tour de France’s first week

vincenzo nibaliVincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has emerged from the first week of the 2012 Tour de France as one of very few genuine rivals to Maillot Jaune favourite Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). So far ‘the Shark’ from Messina has managed to avoid the crashes that have either delayed or knocked out many of the other contenders and was, tellingly, one of only a few riders to stay with the pace set by Wiggins’ team on the stage seven finish at la Palnche des Belles Filles.

As a non-time triallist, Nibali conceded 2’07” to Wiggins in stage nine’s 41.5km test, between Arc-et-Senans and Besançon, and now sits in fourth place behind Wiggins, Sky teammate Chris Froome, and defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). He sits 2’23” behind the Maillot Jaune, and now must attack if he is to take overall victory in Paris.

“I came into this Tour knowing that I’d done everything I could to prepare for it,” said Nibali at Liquigas-Cannondale’s rest day press conference. “And so far I’ve managed to get the sort of results and feelings that I’d expected. Only two men have proved to be stronger, Wiggins and Froome, and the gaps between me and other riders are minimal.

“The predictions that Sky would be in top form were right,” he continued. “But I think the best of this Tour is still to come. We’ve got three stages tomorrow, Thursday and Friday that could do some real damage, as could next week in the Pyrenees. They may seem bombproof but no one is invincible. We need conviction and to try to separate Wiggins and Froome from their teammates then attack them one on one. I’ll be important to play this game with the head and not just go on instinct.”

So far the course has not suited Nibali’s characteristics and has given him few opportunities to shine. He has come out of it unscathed however, unlike many rivals, and will be looking to his teammates to set him up in the coming stages.

“The first week was a nervous one and even though there weren’t any climbs we worked very hard to not run any risks,” he explained. “Every effort needs to be measured from now on. I know I’ve got a strong, motivated team with me and together we’ll find a way to invent something major, particularly in the big mountain stages.

“Ivan Basso will be a fundamental rider for me,” he added. “He’s riding into a good rhythm and I know he’ll help me to make a difference. There are also opponents in the same situation as me and, if we get the right chance, we could form some form of alliance. There are also some riders further down the GC who might want to try an early break to get themselves back in the game. There are so many variables that can influence and change the race.”

Nibali won the 2010 edition of the Vuelta a España, and finished third and second in the 2010 and 2011 editions of his home tour, the Giro d’Italia. He has built his season around the Tour de France however, where he aims to better his seventh place of 2009, but is refusing to panic over his deficit to Wiggins.

“My philosophy has always been not to build up too many expectations, not to put myself under any undue pressure and take the Tour one day at a time,” he said. “I’ll try to do the same in the upcoming stages; tranquillity is the key to not making any mistakes. Plus there are the dynamics within the race that can change from one day to the next.

“My style of racing won’t change,” he concluded. “I’m an attacker, someone who tries hard and that’s what I’ll do from here to Paris to get the best possible result and finish without any regrets.”


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