PARIS, April 30, 2013 (AFP) – Cycling’s Astana team believe they can win
the forthcoming Tour of Italy, which starts in Naples on Saturday with their
in-form team leader Vincenzo Nibali.
The Sicilian-born rider, already a winner of one of the other main tours,
Spain’s Vuelta, was tipped for success in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday by the
Kazakh cycling federation-backed outfit’s manager Alexander Vinokourov.
“He’s already won the Tour of Spain and he has taken third place in the
Tour de France,” pointed out Vinokourov, who retired from race riding after
his Olympic road race title in London last year.
“He’s ready to fight for the pink jersey,” added the Astana boss of Nibali,
who lines up on the back of an encouraging warm up win in the Giro del
The home favourite has been picked out as a major obstacle to victory by
Briton’s first ever Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins, who said on
Monday: “This race is more suited to him and it’s his pride and joy.
“I think he’s in better shape than he’s ever been and he’s got everything,
all the attributes, steeper climbing, the tricky descents, all the things the
Giro throws at you, he’s got.”
Vinokourov for his part suggested it was difficult to assess the threat
posed by Wiggins, who unlike Nibali is also targeting the Tour de France again.
“We don’t really know if Bradley Wiggins is out to win the Giro or use it
as part of his preparation for the Tour de France.
“But he’s won the Tour de France and the Olympic time-trial title, we can’t
Aside from Wiggins Astana rate another Italian rider, Michele Scarponi,
Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal and Dutch competitor Robert Gesink as key dangers to
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Fabio Aru (ITA), Dmitri
Gruzdev (KAZ), Tanel Kangert (EST), Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE), Paolo Tiralongo
(ITA), Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Andrey Zeits (KAZ)