|Milano-Sanremo, Sunday 17 March
( 15 March, 2013 )
Astana Pro Team Manager Giuseppe Martinelli says a forecast for bad weather at Sunday’s 298km Milano-Sanremo may play a fundamental role in shaping the race, but likely rain and possible snow will be welcome in a competition that has so many excellent athletes at the start.
“So many strong riders have a plan for this race: Cancellara, Sagan, Hushovd – in any normal circumstance they can all win. But our strategy for the race is 100 percent behind Vincenzo Nibali, and if the weather is bad, then for us this is optimal, because everybody knows he rides better in the rain and cold,” Martinelli said.
Nibali, nicknamed ‘lo Squalo’ – ‘The Shark’, raced in a bold, attacking style on the final road stage of last week’s Tirreno-Adriatico, probing the weaknesses of his opponents on the 30 percent incline into Sant’Elpidio the third time up the rain-slickened and narrow backroad into the hilltop Italian village and emerging over the paved summit to plunge the remaining 13km to the finish and a victorious gap over his nearest rivals in the overall classification.
“The victory at Tirreno-Adriatico gave Nibali a big confidence boost, and also to the team. We will all work for him, but at Milano-Sanremo there are other riders with us who can take advantage of the very difficult finish to try for a result. We have Iglinskiy and Grivko and Gasparotto who can be effective in the climbs, and we have Gavazzi and Ponzi who can do the very important mid-race work that makes a victory possible. It’s a 300-kilometer race, and this makes eating and drinking and getting clothes to and from the cars just as important as physical factors,” Martinelli said.
Nibali finished on the podium at Milano-Sanremo last year, and Martinelli says his current physical condition is very high and will keep him at the front of the race at the 2013 finish.
“Maybe 100 riders can win this race, and in past years it’s true that the finish has been something of a lottery. But physical condition is what makes the true difference at Milano-Sanremo, and after we saw the final podium at what was in fact a very, very difficult Tirreno-Adriatico, with Nibali, Froome and Contador in the top three, we can say that we think we have a very strong team and very strong chances this Sunday. In the end, champions are really champions,” Martinelli said.
Astana Pro Team riders:
Astana Pro Team staff