Anxious Nibali happy to kick off season at Giro di Sardegna Tuesday
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Anxious Nibali happy to kick off season at Giro di Sardegna Tuesday

by Bjorn Haake at 2:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

vincenzo nibaliVincenzo Nibali is kicking off his season with the Giro di Sardegna tomorrow. He hopes to repeat his successes of last year, when he won seven races, including the Vuelta a España. Nibali seems himself as a progressed rider and one race he has circled for 2011 is the Giro d'Italia.

 The Italian had good memories from last year. "It was an incredible season that started early and finished late, and was packed with emotions and results." Nibali kicked off his winning campaign with the Tour de San Luis, Argentina, in January. "The victory at the Vuelta a España was the best, and the most difficult moment to overcome was the fall at the Giro di Lombardia," he says. "But after seven wins I'm not complaining."

Nibali is ready to step up and deal with more pressure as a team leader. "I'm aware of the responsibilities ahead but they don't worry me. I've always been able to transform pressure into strength during the races and I'm counting on doing the same again this year." Nibali, 26 years old, has slowly grow into a more prominent role. "I feel that I've matured as a rider. You learn something every day, that's for sure, but I'm now more aware of what I can do," the Italian says.

The Liquigas-Cannondale rider has always been a team player. "The team and my teammates provide fundamental support in all this. The success at the Vuelta was also thanks to them. I hope we can repeat that script at the next Giro d'Italia."

With Ivan Basso concentrating on the Tour de France, the Italian Grand Tour is for Nibali's taking. "Climbing onto the third step of the podium in 2010 gave me goose bumps, and so I can't even image what sort of a thrill you get standing on the top step. Ivan Basso said it was undescribable. I'll try to repeat his success."

Nibali is aware of the challenges, but not afraid of them. "I know the competition is going to be strong but so will be our team. The rest will depend on me." Nibali will take a more measured approach than in the previous season. "My race programme is going to be less intense than 2010, to make sure I'm on top form."

His preparation will include a mix of shorter stage races and classics. "I'm debuting in the Giro di Sardegna tomorrow and then I'll do Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Giro del Trentino and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Maybe also Eroica - I'll decide together with the team management after Sardegna."

Despite targeting the Giro, Nibali won't be just going out to collect quality miles in the mentioned competitions. "These are important races so obviously I don't just see them as training runs. I wouldn't be the "Shark" if I was just along for the ride; I want to be one of the main contenders."

Nibali says that he is made for racing. "Competing is in my DNA. I've only been training up to now and I've been dying to race, so I got more excited as the days went by. And tomorrow it's game on, finally!"


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