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Nibali lighter than 2012, will start Liege–Bastogne–Liege

Even though he will race next weekend’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it’s all about the Giro d’Italia this year for Vincenzo Nibali.

The Astana captain is skipping the Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, and will return to competition after a long training camp on the Spanish island of Tenerife with the midweek Giro warm-up race, Giro del Trentino.

After the four-day race concludes Friday, he’ll parachute into Belgium to race Liège, but his mind is on the pink jersey.

“I miss racing,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ll see how I am and take a look at my rivals. [Bradley] Wiggins is at the top of the list. I want to arrive fresh at Liège, which is two days after [Trentino].”

After winning Tirreno-Adriatico and abandoning Milano-Sanremo, Nibali headed to Tenerife for a 19-day, high-altitude training camp.

While his wife waited on the beach, Nibali and some Astana teammates would climb as much as 4,500 meters per day. The Italian said the results were encouraging.

“I am one kilo less than last year and I feel stronger,” Nibali continued. “After the training camp at Tenerife, the sensations are good. I’ve been coming to Tenerife for years, but this is the longest I’ve stayed. My wife was on the beach, me on the bike. We did a bit of everything, long climbs, accelerations, base training, all with the idea of arriving good for Liège.”

Nibali nearly won the final of the spring classics in 2012, falling 2km short when now-teammate Maxim Iglinsky caught and dropped him on the final approach to the finish in the Liège suburb of Ans.

Along with his win in the 2010 Vuelta a España, Nibali has finished second and third at the Giro, and third in last year’s Tour de France. He told the Italian sports daily he’s stronger than ever.

“We made a lot of comparisons to last year, but the data always needs to be interpreted. One thing’s sure: I am one kilo less than last year, now at 65kg, and the values are looking good,” he said. “I could ride with an average of 380 to 390 watts. I feel stronger than last year. I know I will be very competitive at the Giro.”

The Giro starts May 4 in Naples.

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