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After a two year absence, Vincenzo Nibali is ready to reconquer the Giro d'Italia.

Photo: Muscat Municipality/Paumer/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad

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03.05.2016 @ 08:17 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Astana’s Italian ace, Vincenzo Nibali, makes a homecoming to participate in the Giro d’Italia this year for the first time since 2013, the year he won. I 2014 and 2015 Nibali focused on the Tour de France, winning the French grand tour on the first of those two occasions. He said he had to return to Italy’s grand tour.

 

The Sicilian attempted to repeat his win at the Tour last year, but he was compelled to leave France with only a stage win and fourth-place overall.

 

“I miss the Giro d’Italia,” Nibali told Italian magazine Sport Week. “After two years away, I felt the desire to return and to return to the race where I made my name. I raced the first year in 2007, my third year as a professional, and finished 19th. I was a helper in team Liquigas for Danilo Di Luca, who won.”

 

Nibali placed third in 2011 — which was later converted to second with Alberto Contador’s disqualification for illegal use of performance enhancing substances — and came back to claim the overall win in Italy’s most important race in 2013.

 

Nibali acknowledged that his 2014 triumph in the Tour took its toll – in an interesting echo of what Bradley Wiggins has repeatedly stated about the aftermath of his win in 2012.

 

“Afterwards, there was too much. Parties, distractions, too much weight,” Nibali explained. “At the first team camp, I saw that my teammates were further along than I was.”

 

Nibali and his trainer Paolo Slongo decided it was best for him to come out fighting and not ease up until the Giro ends May 29 in Turin.

Nibali’s experience and his Tour of Oman win in February have singled him out as a favourite to win the Giro this year. There are detractors, however, because Sky’s Mikel Landa rode away from him in the Giro del Trentino last week. But even Landa said, “When Nibali prepares for something, he doesn’t make a mistake.”

 

Nibali himself points to a trio of main rivals.

 

“Landa was my teammate last year and he pulled off some numbers in the Giro,” Nibali added. Landa finished third in the race behind winner Alberto Contador and team mate Fabio Aru. “Alejandro Valverde is hard-headed and never gives up. But then there are young rivals like Esteban Chaves.”

 

“I like this Giro because it’s similar to the one I won in 2013,” Nibali said. “Nervous stages at the start and then obviously, it will all be decided in the last week [in the mountains].”

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