Vincenzo Nibali: “I want to honour this race until the last Kilometre”
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Monday, September 05, 2011

Vincenzo Nibali: “I want to honour this race until the last Kilometre”

by Ben Atkins at 2:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Defending Vuelta champion concedes that his dream of a second straight victory is over

vincenzo nibaliIn the space of two mountain stages the Vuelta a España defence of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) fell apart. The Sicilian lost 2’37” to stage winner – and new race leader – Juan José Cobo (Geox-TMC) on stage fifteen to the Alto de l’Angliru, which was an insult added to the injury of the 1’41” he had conceded to him on La Farrapono the day before.

Nibali slipped from second place at the start of stage fourteen, just four seconds behind then race leader Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), to eight place, trailing Cobo by 3’27”.

"I don’t deny that my ambitions, before this crucial week, were different" said Nibali on the race’s second rest day. "Unfortunately I could not perform as I wanted in some key stages. I wasn’t able to make the most of my potential; on Saturday and Sunday I lost ground where I really had to make it up.”

The 26-year-old started the race with the intention of taking a second successive title, having been disappointed with third in the Giro d’Italia, his main target of the year. All this has changed now though for, while there are technically three mountain stages in the six remaining days of the race, none is tough enough for Nibali to take back anything like enough time.

“Obviously that the accumulated time lost doesn’t allow me to look at the red jersey with the same ambition as I had at the start,” he admitted. “We must be honest and resize our goals. I feel that I can’t be criticised for the determination and commitment I’ve shown so far. The tone was right in the race and I believe I have shown well.

“The feelings were always positive, then I suffered two bad days that compromised my dreams of a high ranking,” he added. “From here to Madrid, however, I will not change my attitude. I want to get the best possible result in this Vuelta and I will give one hundred percent to do that. Making a mark will not be easy though, because there is not much space for a personal action; I will have to make something up."

Nibali had expected to shine in the high Asturias mountains, where he lost the race and, while he understands what went wrong on the climb to La Farrapona, he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions over what happened on the Angliru.

"On Saturday a crisis of hunger made me lose precious seconds,” he explained. “Yesterday my legs, unfortunately, did not go as I wanted. The team was great in the preparatory work to the final climb, it was what I wanted to thin out the group, but then the pace of Cobo proved too strong for me and I paid for the effort. I tried because it is not in my nature to sit up, but I accepted the verdict calmly.

“To think now about the reasons behind these performances would be premature; at the end of the race, with the team, we will make the necessary assessments. At this time it is important to think about the stages to come and to not lose concentration.

“I want to honour the race until the very last kilometre," he concluded.

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