Vincenzo Nibali wants 2010 to be the season when he breaks out with some big-time results.
The promising 25-year-old takes his confidence-boosting seventh overall at the 2009 Tour de France into the new season, with ambitions of something big.
“I am even more ambitious next year,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The approach will be similar to 2009. I want to do better, but the competition has increased. It will be a more wide open race.
Nibali has been nibbling at some important results since turning pro. He’s notched some solid results, including the overall at the 2008 Giro del Trentino and a pair of one-day Italian races in 2009. An accomplished time trialist and steady climber – he’s not quite a specialist in either discipline – Nibali is hoping that his consistency and dogged determination can land him closer to the grand tour podium.
He’s been 20th and 11th at the Giro d’Italia and 20th and seventh at the past two Tours, so Nibali is quietly optimistic he can continue on his upward progression in the grand tours.
For 2010, he’ll focus on some early season results at events such as Tirreno-Adriatico and the Ardennes classics (he was 10th in the 2008 Liège-Bastogne-Liège) before preparing for the Tour and then the Vuelta a España.
Nickname “the Shark,” Nibali first will have to navigate some tough competition at his Liquigas-Doimo team, where Ivan Basso, Franco Pellizotti and Roman Kreuziger all have high GC ambitions as well.
“This year’s Giro is better suited for light and nimble climbers like Franco and Ivan,” he said. “I will skip the Giro and focus solely on doing the best I can at the Tour. And then at the Vuelta, I will co-captain with Kreuziger. With a program like that, there’s plenty of room to shine.”
One wrinkle in Nibali’s Tour plans is Basso’s ambitions of returning to the Tour for the first time since 2005 and his involvement in the Operación Puerto doping scandal.
Basso was steady but not spectacular in his 2009 comeback, riding to fifth overall at the Giro, but promises to be even better in 2010.