Countdown to the start of the Tour de France. Nibali, Sagan and Basso on the Grande Boucle
Vincenzo: «The fight for the GC is an exciting challenge and a big responsibility». Peter: «I’ll take it day by day and aim to make my mark as soon as possible ». Ivan: «I’ll use my strength and experience to help the team »
The Tour de France starts its 3,497 km journey tomorrow and Liquigas-Cannondale is fired up to go. Team leaders Vincenzo Nibali, Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso have spoken about their chances in France: different ambitions and roles but the same desire to be main contenders.
«I’m going into to this Tour determined and with the desire to win,” said Nibali. «Over the past few years I’ve shown that I can compete with the best and this year I’ve got a great opportunity and a big responsibility. I don’t like making predictions or promises, I just want to do my best to get the best possible result. The podium? I think it’s an achievable goal, also because I’ll have a strong, experienced team by my side: being supported by Ivan Basso is a huge advantage. The preparations for the Tour went well. The Critérium du Dauphiné showed me where I needed to improve and then I went to Passo San Pellegrino for the training camp. I’ve done what I needed to do to be in top form for the start of the Tour. The parcours is tough and particularly difficult to interpret. Wiggins is the one rival who has shown he’s a step above the rest. He may have the time trials on his side but I see where I can attack and put him in difficulty. We’ve got to race without any worries, try to capitalise on every opportunity and save as much energy as possible for the trickier situations. In addition to Wiggins, we’ll have to keep an eye on Evans, Sanchez, Menchov, Van den Broeck, and Gesink. It’ll be an open race that’s fought bitterly through to the last stage: I hope I’ll be there to play my hand. »
Despite his impressive record of wins, Peter Sagan knows that the Tour de France is completely different, «I’ll have the chance to race against the best in the world, with riders who are in top condition. My main goal is to be competitive and win a stage. I’ll try to do what I did at last year’s Vuelta, and take every day as it comes without too many worries or expectations. Do lots of the stages suit me? Yes, on paper, but the competition will be fierce. Cavendish is the best sprinter in the world, but every stage has its own story. I’m here to ride well and leave my mark. My wins to date have provided a good foundation, especially for my morale. The green jersey? It would be nice but I don’t want to think about it too much until Paris. »
Ivan Basso is the man with the most experience and he’s ready to step up when the pressure is on, «I’m in this Tour to support Vincenzo and to do this I’ve been preparing as if I was aiming for a spot on the podium. He’s got everything he needs to one of the main contenders and he’s right to believe in his podium chances: I’ll be by his side when things get really tough. I reckon I’ve got the experience to help him, just as I can help the rest of the team. This isn’t a new role for me and I like doing it. The Tour de France is a special race, and just being here makes me happy and motivated. »