Even in this unusual season, with its rewritten calendar, there is an essential passage in Vincenzo Nibali's season that remains unchanged: Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Race of the Two Seas – eight stages beginning September 7th – has always represented an important test for the Shark for preparation of the Giro d’Italia. With the countdown to the start of the Corsa Rosa under 30 days, the importance of Tirreno-Adriatico is even greater.
“It will be an important benchmark from which I expect much feedback,” says Nibali. “As I said before, the difficulty of planning a preparation with so many unknowns compared to the past is a fact I have to accept, the same as I did in the first month of races. I believe that so far, my and team’s performances have been solid, but we have lacked the brilliance that only more racing days can give you.
“My preparation has been set to reach the top condition for Giro d’Italia. The Tirreno-Adriatico, the first and only pre-Giro stage race since the restart, is part of this path. I’m just back from 10 days of altitude training, added to the 15 already done in mid-July. My calendar so far has been marked by races and training camps, practically. My condition is a work in progress. I am going fairly well, and so far I have had no hiccups.
“But it would be presumptuous to make proclamations of victory. We must remain with our feet on the ground, aware of what we have done so far, and, of course, taking our contenders into high consideration. The goal is to do well and be competitive to the maximum of our potential.
“The course is demanding and the starting list respectable. I want to live the race day by day, also following the answers of my physique. We need the right lucidity in these moments. Before the final time trial, each stage offers demanding altimetric profiles. The 5th stage with arrival in Sassotetto is the most insidious because it finishes with a hard climb, but it will be stressful every day. The concurrence with the Tour de France has not affected the importance of Tirreno-Adriatico. Of course, many of the expected protagonists will not be there, but I’m sure that we will have a race that lives up to its history and importance this year.”
As already confirmed, Trek-Segafredo will rely on Vincenzo Nibali as captain and leader for the general classification. In support, his brother Antonio, Gianluca Brambilla, and Julien Bernard, three climbers he trained with at the camp. The two Dutchmen, Koen de Kort and Pieter Weening, will bring the necessary experience. Last but not least, the strong Classics rider Alex Kirsch, called to take the place of Giulio Ciccone.
“The team is strong and reliable, but Giulio’s absence is heavy, we can’t hide it. He is among the best climbers around and an essential element for me and the whole team. Besides the sporting side, I am very sorry for him from a human point of view. I just want to wish him well and heal fast, with the hope of riding with him soon.”