Basso and Nibali ready for strong Giro d’Italia campaign
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Basso and Nibali ready for strong Giro d’Italia campaign

by Conal Andrews at 6:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

Liquigas riders Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali will spearhead the hopes of the team in this year’s Giro, with the latter stepping in to fill the shoes of Franco Pellizotti.

Basso has been targeting victory in this race for many months, being highly motivated to try to repeat his success in 2006. He is yet to take a major victory since his suspension on doping-related charges and is determined to show that he can still perform at the very top level.

Twelve months ago he finished fifth overall, 3’59 behind winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank), although this can be revised upwards to fourth due to the disqualification of runner-up Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes). He was also fourth in the 2009 Vuelta a España.

Basso has been working hard in recent months and while he doesn’t quite feel one hundred percent, he’s hoping that he can ride into form in the race.

"Victory in the Giro d’Italia is the dream of this year,” he said, “and it is true that I faced a long and challenging period of training to get ready. I am convinced that I have worked to the best of my ability and am not leaving anything to chance. I was hoping to arrive in the Netherlands with more sparkle, but I am sure that in the three weeks of racing, my efforts since last December will be rewarded. I begin this new challenge with confidence and peace of mind.”

Basso will be up against a number of very strong riders, including world champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo Test Team), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone). “The group of contenders is at a high level and to get the Maglia Rosa in Verona will not be easy,” he admitted. “Whatever happens, I will give 110% to succeed and will not leave no stone unturned.”

He said that it will be important to be vigilant from the off, saying that he will have to concentrate from the very start in the Netherlands. “The third week is definitely the hardest but it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the other stages. To win a tough tour like this, you must have be consistently good and also pay attention to every detail.”

Nibali was not scheduled to do the race, but rather to target the Tour de France. He was seventh overall in the race last year, netting third and fourth on stages, and is one of Italy’s most talented young riders. His late call-up means that his preparation is not ideal, and consequently he is urging people not to expect too much.

“Being the last named to take part has removed the weight of pressure from my shoulders, but I don’t feel ready to be [considered] amongst the leaders. However the Tour of Italy is a special race and I will honour it to the best of my ability. I will judge my feelings each day to see what goals I can achieve.

“My condition is good, I did an altitude camp in April and started racing with confidence in the Ardennes Classics.”

He said that he’d ridden many of the big climbs before and so was not disadvantaged in that respect.

Nibali and the other riders will get things underway tomorrow with the 8.4 kilometre prologue in Amsterdam. The 25 year old thinks that should go well. “It is a short and technical course, which I like,” he said. “Then we face a team time trial where we can do well, and an intriguing stage on the dirt roads of Tuscany.

“Terminillo offers the first uphill finish, and from then on I’ll take it day by day. I'm here because the team needed my contribution, and I won’t hold back. I will support Ivan in his hunting of the pink jersey, and will also try to be a protagonist.”

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