Vincenzo Nibali: “I’m coming back to the Vuelta a España to win again”
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vincenzo Nibali: “I’m coming back to the Vuelta a España to win again”

by Ben Atkins at 4:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Lack of a 2011 victory doesn’t worry defending race champion as he seeks to defend his title

vincenzo nibaliVincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) will take the start of the team time trial in Benidorm this coming Saturday as the Vuelta a España champion, and goes to the race with the clear objective of retaining his title. The Sicilian ‘Shark’ had hoped to win his home tour, the Giro d’Italia, this year but could only manage third – one place worse than in 2010 – behind Alberto Contador. The enjoyment of last year’s success in Spain has drawn him back to the third Grand Tour of the year.

“Fabulous memories from the celebrations in Madrid come back to my mind”, said the. “I’m coming back to Spain to win again.”

Although the race is his main target of the second half of the season, Nibali admits that he has not specifically reconnoitred any of the Vuelta’s stages.

“I don’t know the Anglirù,” he said, “but my team-mate [Valerio] Agnoli told me that it’s harder than the Mortirolo and the Zoncolan. It means it’ll be the hardest climb I’ve ever done, but I’m not worried, we’ll all have to go up there and it’ll be hard for everyone.”

Following the Italian championships at the end of June – and a short holiday on Sicily – Nibali concentrated on training on the short, steep hills around his home in Tuscany in preparation for the mountains of the Vuelta.

“I’ve looked at working mainly on changes of rhythm to be explosive in the climbs, that’s what’s needed for the Vuelta a España,” he explained. “Here the climbs are pretty steep.”

Nibali returned to racing for the Tour of Poland earlier this month, where he helped Peter Sagan to overall victory.

“I worked for Peter Sagan in Poland and I’m sure we’ll work well together again here in Spain”, he said. “At the Tre Valli [Varesine], I got pretty much the same result as last year, 16th instead of 15th. I attacked in the finale but it wasn’t hard enough for making a difference.

vincenzo nibali“With Agnoli and [Eros] Capecchi, we have a good team of climbers but I think we’ll do well as soon as in Saturday’s team time trial,” Nibali continued. “The race is very open this year. We’re about ten favourites with those who have crashed at the Tour de France! The two Spaniards are the first in my mind: [Joaquim] Rodriguez and [Igor] Antón who will have an extra motivation with the Tour of Spain going back to the Basque country. I’m convinced there won’t be any problem there. I’ve raced in the Basque country in the past. The crowd is great.

“I see [Denis] Menchov and [Michele] Scarponi well too,” he added. “The only individual time trial isn’t at the end this year, so it’ll be possible for those who don’t go well against the clock to make it up for the time lost.”

One area of the race where Nibali will have to take special care is the three days in the mountains back-to-back on stages 13, 14 and 15. Back in May he used up too much energy on a similar section, costing him later in the race.

“The end of the second week reminds me of the Giro when we had three big mountain stages in a row with the Grossglockner, the Zoncolan and the Gardeccia,” he said. “I’ll have to improve compared to the Giro because I paid for my efforts at the Gardeccia. I can’t allow myself to lose again.”

He was disappointed to miss out on a Giro victory, after having also taken third in 2010 while in the service of teammate Ivan Basso. He is yet to take a victory in 2011, but this doesn’t worry him too much.

“I still consider that I’m having a good season”, he said. “I’ve made the top of races like Milan-San Remo [8th], Liège-Bastogne-Liège [8th] and Tirreno-Adriatico [5th].

“Not having won yet won’t be a factor during the Vuelta.”

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