Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali did not attend the Tour de France presentation in Paris, keeping a low profile and enjoying their end of season holidays but the Astana team will gather in Tuscany in late November to formally decide their 2016 race programme and goals. However Nibali has already hinted he wants to target the Giro d’Italia and Rio Olympic road race and nudged Aru towards his Tour de France debut.
The Vuelta a Espana winner initially pushed back about missing the Giro d’Italia and targeting the Tour de France when speaking to Cyclingnews in Abu Dhabi but after seeing the route, he now seems more convinced of making his debut in the Grand Boucle.
“The route looks good. It’s tough. There are two time trials but they’re pretty tough,” Aru told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Next year I want to do well but I’ll tackle the Tour without pressure on my shoulders,” he told the ANSA news agency. “I know I’m okay on the climbs, I’ve improved at time trialing. That means that even if I could be making my debut at the Tour, I think I can do something.”
Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France but struggled this year due to a lack of form early in the race and pressure from the Astana team. He lost time on stage 2 in the echelons but gradually fought back to win the mountain stage to La Toussuire and finish fourth overall.
Nibali has made it clear he wants to enjoy a low profile winter to recover and freshen up for his what is widely expected to be his final season with Astana in 2016. However he has studied the route of the 2016 Tour de France, finding similarities to the 2009 Tour de France, where he finished sixth. Alberto Contador won the Tour, beating Andy Schleck, Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins. Armstrong was later disqualified from the results. The 2009 Tour de France included a mountain finish in Andorra, climbed Mont Ventoux and visited Switzerland.
“There are quite a few similarities to the 2009 Tour: That was the first time I finished in the top ten in a Grand Tour and that made me realise I could win a Grand Tour one day,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
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