The 100th Giro d’Italia’s first team press conferences were held today. Top riders speaking included the last winner Vincenzo Nibali, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, sprinters André Greipel and Italian climber Domenico Pozzovivo.
Last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) said: “I feel pretty good. The climate here in Sardinia is exceptional. I’m looking forward to starting the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia. My expectations are public knowledge: I want to make the final podium. It’s not easy to be on the highest step of the podium, so if it’s not possible to win the Giro again, I’ll fight for second or third place to honor the race. We’ve worked as a team to be here in the best condition possible. I have a lot of respect for my adversaries.
“It’ll be a long challenge with a lot of unknowns. [Event director] Mauro Vegni has made the route even more difficult than in previous years. He also gave me the pleasure of two stages in my homeland [Sicily]. There’ll even be a city circuit in my town [Messina]. It makes me happy for myself, for my fans, for my family. It’s not the first time the Giro has been to Sicily but it has a special taste this time around.
“Stage 4 to mount Etna has a 4000m difference in altitude and it’ll follow nervous stages in Sardinia. It’ll be the first direct opposition to my rivals. We’ll see on the Etna how I am and how they are. It’s a different ascent compared to six years ago. This way is harder and it comes after a rest day. My approach of the Giro is cautious. I hope to be consistent.”
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), who wore the Maglia Rosa for six days in last year’s Giro, said: “I’m here to do really well on GC. Winning the Giro is normally out of reach. To do so, I’d need to be in my best shape ever and also have all possible luck. Nairo Quintana is the favorite. In the past years and last month, he’s been showing that even at 90 percent of his capacities, he’s playing for the win. Riders like Steven Kruijswijk and myself, at 95 percent we can’t compete for the win. Vincenzo Nibali is always dangerous. Last year I didn’t expect him to win the Giro and he did.
“My preparation went well. We have a strong team, we’re mentally and physically fresh for three weeks. I only rode for GC once, at the Vuelta a España two years ago. Uphill I was just limiting the losses. Since them, I’m calmer and I’ve made some improvements uphill. The first half of the Giro is not super difficult. I don’t think the differences on GC will be big after Etna and the Blockhaus. The stage that includes Stelvio and Mortirolo is the hardest but any of the stages in the last week can’t be underestimated.”
The German sprinter Andrè Greipel (Lotto Soudal), who won at least a stage in each of his previous four participation at the Giro d’Italia, said: “I’m happy to be part of 100th edition. I really like this race. I wouldn’t say no to winning another stage, we have a very strong team for the sprints but also for the other stages. If it happens on Friday, it will be nice to wear the Maglia Rosa once. I’m looking forward to try that. In a Grand Tour, a maximum of 21 guys out of 198 can win a stage, so to be part of them is always a great success.
“On paper it looks like I’m the best sprinter but there’s a good quality field of sprinters with Caleb Ewan, Fernando Gaviria, Giacomo Nizzolo, etc. They’re young guys who want to challenge me but I also want to challenge them. This is my fourteenth Grand Tour. I have more experience than them but they don’t care about that. They have a bright future ahead of them and it won’t be easy to beat them.”
The Italian climber Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), previous winner of a Giro stage and a four-time top-10 finisher in the Corsa Rosa general classification, said: “This is one of the hardest routes we’ve ever found at the Giro. In the last week, there won’t be any day that won’t be important for GC and stage 4 to mount Etna is already an important one. The Etna particularly motivates me. I often go there for training camps. I have a special feeling for this mountain. Being from the South of Italy, I also have a special feeling for Sicily. In addition, there isn’t any time trial before the first uphill finish. Since the Etna suits technically me, I can dream of the Maglia Rosa. Moreover, it opens the game to the climbers earlier than usual. I’ve already made the final top 10 of the Giro d’Italia four times. It’s my goal again this year but to make it would be a big satisfaction, considering the long list of GC contenders this year.”