FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Italian champion Fabio Aru is finalizing his schedule for the 2018 season, when he will debut with team UAE Emirates, and highlighted the Giro d’Italia as his number one aim.
Aru raced the 2017 Tour de France this summer after a knee injury forced him to cancel his Giro d’Italia plans. He went on to win the Planche des Belles Filles stage, wear the yellow leader’s jersey for two days, and place fifth overall. The pink overall leader’s jersey, however, remains in his heart.
“Yes, I’m going to make the Giro my aim,” Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
Aru will be one of several stars lined up for the 2018 race. Others, still unconfirmed, could include Mikel Landa (with Movistar in 2018), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), and perhaps Chris Froome (Sky).
“I heard that Chris Froome is thinking about racing,” Aru added. “He is a big champion and a tough cookie. I hope he’s at the Giro, the race would be even more prestigious. And I like hard competition.”
The 2018 edition will start in Jerusalem and stay in Israel for three days. The presentation of the remainder of the route will take place Wednesday in Milan. Insiders told VeloNews, however, the race will travel south from Sicily to the north with eight summit finishes, including Monte Zoncolan. The final week will include a 34.5-kilometer time trial. The race is due to finish in Rome outside the Vatican.
Aru placed second and third overall already in the Giro. He missed the occasion of a lifetime last year with the race celebrating 100 editions and starting in Sardinia, his home island. While training in Spain for the race, he fell and injured his knee.
The injury forced him into a rest and rushed Tour preparation. He competed in the Vuelta and ended his year with Il Lombardia. He said then, “It’s been two years since I’ve been to the Giro, and the Corsa Rosa is close to my heart.”
With La Gazzetta dello Sport, he indicated that his 2018 schedule was still being planned with his new UAE Emirates team and manager Giuseppe Saronni, but in the same breath, he named the Giro as his target.
“I’m sure I will be in the Abu Dhabi Tour, I do not know if it will be my season debut or not. Then Tirreno-Adriatico in March, while I have a question mark between Milano-Sanremo and the Volta a Catalonia,” he said. “The Tour of the Alps [Trentino] is important because one stage will be on the world championship circuit in Innsbruck, which I am aiming for. I would like to make a debut at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. With the worlds in mind, the Vuelta it is compulsory.”
UAE has yet to say, but it is expected to lead with Dan Martin in the Tour de France. Martin said after he announced his transfer from Quick-Step to UAE, that he would have no problem sharing the calendar with Aru and that the two could complement each other when racing in the same events.
“Astana helped me realize a dream when they signed me into the professional ranks five years ago,” Aru continued. “I learned much and I’m grateful for the time that we had together, but it was the time to change teams and have new experiences.
“After two podiums in the Giro and the Vuelta win [in 2015], my possibilities have changed. In the new team, the expectations are higher, as well as my motivation.”