With Fabio Aru (Astana) out due to injury, Italian hopes at the Giro d'Italia rest solely with two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
By
Cycling Central

4 May 2017 - 9:01 AM  UPDATED 5 May 2017 - 11:58 AM

Despite posting only one good result in 2017, winning the Tour of Croatia, Nibali has high expectations for the 100th edition of the 5-28 May Grand Tour.

“I feel pretty good. I’m looking forward to starting the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia," he said. "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."

The peloton start its three-week Giro journey on the island of Sardinia. After three stages it heads to Sicily for two days before landing on the Italian mainland and northward for a difficult final week in the Dolomites before the time trial finale in Milan.

Added incentive for Nibali will be the two stages held in and around his home base of Messina in Sicily, one which takes the peloton up the active Mount Etna volcano.

“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.

"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."

Quintana starts quest for Giro-Tour double
Nairo Quintana will embark on a daunting quest for a career-defining Giro-Tour de France double on Friday when he sets off against a tough field on Italy's roads.

The 2017 Giro sports a strong general classification field with competition for Nibali coming from Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa of Team Sky, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).

“Stage 4 to mount Etna has a 4000 metre 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," Nibali said.

"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.”

NOTE: The 5-28 May Giro d'Italia will not be broadcast on SBS due to rights changes.