STANDISH, United Kingdom (AFP) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) on Monday said that home favorite Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will be his main threat at the Giro d’Italia, but hoped that his improved climbing skills will aid his chances of becoming the first Briton to win the race.
Wiggins claims the Giro, which begins in Naples on Saturday, is his main priority for 2013, after winning the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal last year.
And he viewed Nibali, who is not racing in the Tour de France, as a real danger to his prospects.
“This race is more suited to him and it’s his pride and joy,” the British rider told reporters.
“There’s a lot at stake for him in this race, he’s the big Italian favorite, he’s trained for this and he’s not doing the Tour afterwards, it’s his one.
“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.
“I don’t fear him, I respect him. I know his strengths and this weaknesses and in that respect I won’t underestimate him. I know what I have to do and he’s the man to beat for me.”
Wiggins started his career as a track cyclist and climbing has always been perceived as a relative weakness.
But he maintains that his training means he could not be better prepared for the tests that Italy will bring.
“I’m less concerned about the climbing than I used to be,” Wiggins added. “A year ago that was the thing that always concerned me, whether I was going to hold out on the climbs.
“But after what we’ve done this year, I think I’ve got more confidence and belief in my climbing ability.
“Most of the Giro is uphill this year so you have to train uphill and that’s been the biggest difference to last year’s Tour de France preparations, just training consistently to climb better on steeper climbs.”