The 'Shark of Messina' finishes with a small group of rivals in the Giro’s first big climb to make his first mark towards the overall podium.
Vincenzo Nibali gave his home island fans a big performance in the third of four stages held in Sicily and showed he is a genuine threat for the overall title of the 2020 Giro d’Italia with a seventh-place finish atop the famous volcano in Sicily.
Nibali arrived at the finish with a select group of rivals fighting for fifth place, 51 seconds behind winner Jonathan Caicedo (EF Pro Cycling), who was part of the day’s escape group. Nibali now sits in 6th place overall, moving up from 25th place after the stage 1 individual time trial.
In a Grand Tour, every day is a day in itself, especially when unforeseeable factors can suddenly change the situation in the race. Hot and humid at the beginning, then cold, wind, and rain on Etna. In addition, we are at stage three, and we have already raced a touch stage. These are all elements that can influence, and today we had tangible proof of it.
- Vincenzo Nibali
While a few favorites faltered on the long climb – including Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) who had an early-race crash – Nibali looked strong sitting behind his Trek-Segafredo team. In the climb’s final kilometers, Gianluca Brambilla went to the front and set a hard pace to help launch the first Shark attack of this year’s race. It certainly won’t be the last.
I got a glimpse of Thomas' crash, but when he came back in the peloton, he kept the front positions, and honestly, I didn't expect him to be so bad. The same goes for Yates, albeit for different reasons.
Nibali’s acceleration pulled out the strongest rivals, and the select group rode the remaining distance together. It was the first selection in the general classification and a good sign that Nibali is prepared to fight all the way to Milan.
From experience, I say that I am not surprised that such a tough climb in the first week can do such big damage. We GC contenders are all in a sort of running-in phase, and if you find the wrong day, you pay dearly.
Contenders aside, I look at my race, and I am satisfied, but I also say that we have to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. I repeat: we are only on the third day of the race.
As I didn't get upset after the time trial, it is not the case to give in to easy enthusiasm now. It may be easy to say, but a Grand Tour must be built day after day. Days like today's give me more serenity, but the concentration is very high: I care a lot about this Giro.