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"I will decide with the team. Like Vincenzo, I will perhaps do both. Who knows? I want to be an important rider. I want to be there for Vincenzo and for Astana."

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - PERI

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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MICHELE SCARPONI

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25.10.2015 @ 08:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 2016 Tour de France may not have turned out as Astana and Vincenzo Nibali wanted but there were a few reasons to be pleased. One of them was the revival of Michele Scarponi who turned out to be one of the strongest climbers in the race.

 

The performance in France makes Scarponi draw a positive balance on his season

 

"Good, much better than last year," he told Tuttobiciweb. "This year I am satisfied, but the fact that Astana has extended my contract by one year means that they were also happy with what I did. I mainly rode to support Vincenzo (Nibali, ed). In the Tour, it all went wrong. If last year’s was the perfect Tour, this year gave us a number of incredible setbacks. They created inconvenience, not least at the psychological level. In the first ten days I was messing around with a problem in  soprassella. I thought I would not make it, I was about to withdraw, but then I was able to get back on track.

 

"In the second part of the Tour, things partly got back to normal. I knew Vicenzo was strong, but this year I've been able to admire him as an athlete, but even as a man with immense moral resources. There are very few riders like him around the world. They can be counted on the fingers of one hand. He could have thrown in the towel. The expectations were immense, but he decided to stay in the game until the end, winning perhaps the most beautiful stage and almost touching the podium."

 

After working for Nibali, Scarponi got the chance to ride for himself in August but missed out on his first win since 2013.

 

"I was very close, but the last win dates back to 2013," he said. In the Basque Country, Clasica San Sebastian went well (Scarponi was sixth, ed.) as did Burgos (he was second, ed.), and in both races I could perhaps get something more, but that's okay."

 

Scarponi also had personal disappointments.

 

“The Italian Championships on the Colle Superga," he said when asked about the low point of the season. "That day I was convinced that I could do so well, however I experienced one of my bad days. But I also performed badly in Lombardy."

 

Being a senior member of Astana, Scarponi is also to shed light on teammates Nibali, Fabio Aru, Mikel Landa and Diego Rosa.

 

"Vincenzo is a champion," he said. "He is the classic athlete that can win even when he is not super, because he has talent, class and an incredible head. I appreciated him a lot already when we were rivals, but to have him as team-mate is really a great fortune. I say that he is a "vintage" rider. He is a guy of today but a bit old-fashioned, especially in the way of interpreting the race. He manages to do something that few can do. "

 

"The seasons are not all equal. It's like a football team that has to play in the Champions League final. You step onto the pitch with all the good intentions and a minute later you are one goal down. I repeat: Vincenzo was a goal down, but then did very well to fix it. He did not win the cup but came out in a good way."

 

Scarponi did less racing with Aru, Landa and Rosa but watched from the outside.

 

“It was difficult for him to confirm his talent but he has not only confirmed. He has improved: this guy has talent out of the ordinary," he said before adding about Landa.

 

"Strong, strong and still going strong. Mikel impressed me a lot. We all thought and hoped he was strong, but he was able to surprise us even though we knew from the start that he had the numbers. Now he will be a pain for everyone as a rival.

 

"Rosa is a guy who does not yet know his limits and is maturing a lot. He is one of the best new riders in Italian cycling and not only because he won Milan-Turin and did a beautiful Lombardia."

 

Scarponi has also been impressed by two riders outside the Astaa team.

 

"Esteban Chaves and Tom Dumoulin: two great riders that will certainly not be one-hit wonders," he said when asked about foreign surprises.

 

Next year Scarponi will again be at Nibali's side. That means that he is likely to do the Giro and maybe also do the Tour.

 

"I will decide with the team," he said. "Like Vincenzo, I will perhaps do both. Who knows? I want to be an important rider. I want to be there for Vincenzo and for Astana.

 

“I am only 36 years and I have a life ahead of me: the future is now. I am still too young to think about what I'll do later. For now I'd settle for doing a great season: you know, I'd love to get another renewal. I'm still a kid."

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