• Vincenzo Nibali again will head into the Tour de France as Italian national champion (Sirotti)Source: Sirotti
After a repeat victory at the Italian road national championships on Sunday, Vincenzo Nibali is fighting fit and ready to defend his Tour de France title.
By
Cycling Central

29 Jun 2015 - 1:19 PM 

The 2014 Tour champion revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport that he is back to his best after struggling with a Achilles tendon injury which delayed his return to full fitness.

"I had a problem that I've never spoken about. This winter I had an Achilles problem, which I have now thankfully gotten over," Nibali said.

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Nibali (Astana) won the Italian national title for the second time after dominating the field at Superga outside Turin.

As he did in 2014 he will again wear 'il Tricolore' at the Utrecht, Netherlands, start on 4 July - perhaps a good omen for the man Sicilians dub 'The Shark' for his aggressive racing abilities.

"I needed this win, it's done me a lot of good. It's liberated me from a lot of the pressure I've been under," Nibali said.

Nibali is only the sixth rider in history to have won all three Grand Tours during a career. But 2015 has been light on difinitive performances, with only a 16th place finish in Tirreno-Adriatico in March, 10th overall in the Tour de Romandie and second-place finish on the mountainous sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné.

"At the Dauphine I wasn't strong enough to deal with the fatigue and I also made a few mistakes that unsettled me even more," Nibali said.

Despite his lack of punch at the Dauphiné, Nibali felt confident in assessing the relative strengths of his Tour rivals, particularly 2012 Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) who won the recent Giro d'Italia.

"At the Dauphine, Froome was impressive on the climbs. But for me Quintana is the most dangerous."

Contador is the one rider everyone will be closely watching as he attempts to win the Tour just a month after the Giro victory, but Nibali remains wary of the Spaniard.

"Contador tired? You wouldn't know it. He would need the perfect season, but the 'Double' is tempting and he certainly has the capacities," Nibali said.