Martinelli on Nibali’s Milan-Sanremo chances: 'In the end, champions are really champions.”
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Martinelli on Nibali’s Milan-Sanremo chances: 'In the end, champions are really champions.”

by Shane Stokes at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
Astana general manager convinced his rider has what it takes to win

Vincenzo NibaliAfter taking third in Milan-Sanremo last year and then showing superb form on the crucial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico to secure his second overall win in the race, Vincenzo Nibali has been pledged the full support of his Astana team for this Sunday’s Classic.

Team manager Giuseppe Martinelli has said that the seven other riders on the team will be fully behind the Italian as he seeks to go two places better than in 2012.

Last year he broke clear on the Poggio with Fabian Cancellara and Simon Gerrans, sparking off the crucial attack with 7.4 kilometres remaining. He finished third in the sprint to the line but gained valuable insight into what is needed to win the race.

Now, confidence on the up after a very strong Tirreno, he’s heading to La Primavera determined to become the first Italian winner since Filippo Pozzato in 2006.

“So many strong riders have a plan for this race: Cancellara, Sagan, Hushovd - in any normal circumstance they can all win,” said Martinelli, explaining the Astana team’s approach. “But our strategy for the race is 100 percent behind Vincenzo Nibali, and if the weather is bad, then for us this is optimal, because everybody knows he rides better in the rain and cold.”

Nibali proved just that on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico when he broke clear with Peter Sagan and Joaquim Rodriguez, stealing a march on race leader Chris Froome, and taking over the Sky rider’s jersey.

He then rode well in the final time trial to seal his success, taking the overall title for the second year running.

Sunday’s forecast is for similar bad weather, and while most riders will be demoralised, wet and cold conditions will only serve to boost Nibali’s morale.

“The victory at Tirreno-Adriatico gave Nibali a big confidence boost, and also to the team,” said Martinelli. “We will all work for him, but at Milano-Sanremo there are other riders with us who can take advantage of the very difficult finish to try for a result.

“We have Iglinskiy and Grivko and Gasparotto who can be effective in the climbs, and we have Gavazzi and Ponzi who can do the very important mid-race work that makes a victory possible. It's a 300-kilometer race, and this makes eating and drinking and getting clothes to and from the cars just as important as physical factors.”

Martinelli accepts that the race is something of a lottery and that perhaps 100 riders have a chance of winning. However, that said, he believes that the riders in the best form will rise to the top. He’s convinced that Nibali fits the bill.

“Physical condition is what makes the true difference at Milano-Sanremo, and after we saw the final podium at what was in fact a very, very difficult Tirreno-Adriatico, with Nibali, Froome and Contador in the top three, we can say that we think we have a very strong team and very strong chances this Sunday,” he said. “In the end, champions are really champions.”

Astana Pro Team for Milan Sanremo:

Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
Enrico Gasparotto (Italy)
Andrei Grivko (Ukraine)
Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)
Borut Bozic (Slovenia)
Simone Ponzi (Italy)
Alessandro Vanotti (Italy)
Francesco Gavazzi (Italy)


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