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"Our strategy for the race is 100 percent behind Vincenzo Nibali, and if the weather is bad, this is optimal for us because everybody knows that he rides better in the rain and cold," sports director Giuseppe Martinelli says

Photo: Sirotti

ALESSANDRO VANOTTI

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ANDRIY GRIVKO

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ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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BORUT BOZIC

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ENRICO GASPAROTTO

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FRANCESCO GAVAZZI

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MAXIM IGLINSKIY

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MILANO - SANREMO

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SIMONE PONZI

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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15.03.2013 @ 17:04 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the instigator of last year's successful attack on the Poggio climb of Milan-Sanremo. This year he looks to repeat that performance, and he hopes that harsh climatic conditions may improve his chances.

 

Without a powerful sprint Vincenzo Nibali may not be perfectly suited to the first monument of the year, Milan-Sanremo, but his impressive display of form in Tirreno-Adriatico and his love for the biggest one-day race of his home country will nonetheless make him the sole captain of the Astana team on Sunday.

 

Like last year he will enter the race on the back of a Tirreno victory, and he will be looking for another repeat performance in Sanremo. He benefitted maximally from his strengths when his strong acceleration on the final Poggio climb drew clear a three-man group with Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and his impressive descending skills contributed to keep the chase at bay. In the end, he ended up third in the sprint, but for a grand tour contender to end on the podium in Sanremo is a very rare achievement.

 

His victory in Tirreno-Adriatico was based on his strength in the brutally hard penultimate stage which was raced in terrible weather conditions. Forecasts indicate that riders may be in for another wet day on Sunday, and the team hopes to once again benefit from the climatic conditions.

 

"So many strong riders have a plan for this race: Cancellara, Sagan, Hushovd - in any normal circumstance they can all win," sports director Giuseppe Martinelli said in a press release. "But our strategy for the race is 100 percent behind Vincenzo Nibali, and if the weather is bad, it is optimal for us, because everybody knows that he rides better in the rain and cold."

 

Martinelli brushes off any suggestion that he enters the race with a captain whose attributes do not correspond to the course at hand. According to the sports director, pure class will always make a difference.

 

"Maybe 100 riders can win this race, and in past years it's true that the finish has been something of a lottery," he said. "But physical condition is what makes the true difference at Milano-Sanremo, and after we saw the final podium at what was in fact a very, very difficult Tirreno-Adriatico with Nibali, Froome and Contador in the top three, we think we have a very strong team and very strong chances this Sunday. In the end, champions are really champions."

 

Nibali will have a strong team at his disposal and will be joined by Enrico Gasparotto, Andriy Grivko, Maxim Iglinskiy, Borut Bozic, Simone Ponzi, Francesco Gavazzi and Alessandro Vanotti. Gasparotto, Grivko and Iglinskiy played a prominent role in last week's Paris-Nice while Ponzi proved his good condition by ending up 3rd in yesterday's GP Nobili Rubinetterie. With Gavazzi also in the line-up, the team has clearly tried to assemble a squad with the ability to make the race really hard on the climbs. Vanotti is Nibali's trusted man who takes care of him in the flatter parts of the race while an in-form Bozic - who impressed most with his strong climbing in Paris-Nice - could be somewhat of a joker, should the race end up in a sprint.

 

Martinelli makes no hide of the fact that the team wishes a hard race on Sunday.

 

"The victory at Tirreno-Adriatico gave both Nibali and the team a big confidence boost," he said. "We will all work for him, but at Milano-Sanremo there are other riders with us who can take advantage of the very difficult finish to try for a result. We have Iglinskiy, Grivko and Gasparotto who can be effective in the climbs, and we have Gavazzi and Ponzi who can do the very important mid-race work that makes a victory possible. It's a 300-kilometer race, and this makes eating, drinking and getting clothes to and from the cars just as important as physical factors."

 

You can follow Nibali's exploits live on CyclingQuotes.com/live on Sunday starting at 14.30. Until then you can prepare for the race by studying our preview.

 

Astana for Milan-Sanremo

Vincenzo Nibali, Andriy Grivko, Enrico Gasparotto, Maxim Iglinskiy, Borut Bozic, Simone Ponzi, ALessandro Vanotti and Francesco Gavazzi

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