FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Fabio Aru returns to the Giro d’Italia this May a changed man. Now, he has experience, which he wants to use to win the famous pink jersey.
Aru’s program for 2018 includes three highlights — the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a España, and the world championships. And at the end of the season, he says he wants the winner’s jersey from one of those races.
“I’m very happy to return to the Giro after two years,” Aru (UAE Team Emirates) said. “Above all, because the forced cancellation due to injury in 2017, when the Giro started in Sardinia — that’s still an open wound and it needs time to close.”
The 27-year-old Sardinian, however, returns to the Giro this May with heaps of experience. Since the 2015 edition, he has won the Vuelta a España, beating Tom Dumoulin on the final mountain day, and has ridden the Tour de France twice, last year taking a stage win and holding the leader’s yellow jersey for two days.
He explained how the small differences add up. He trains more on his time trial bike, which will be fundamental if he wants to win the Giro given the 34.5-kilometer time trial in Rovereto. Dumoulin and Chris Froome, noted time trial riders, will be tough to beat in May.
Aru also shows more confidence in the peloton after the 2017 season.
“In a sense, this is closing a circle now,” Aru continued. “I had already rode the Tour and Vuelta with the Italian champion jersey. I also wanted to race the Giro for this opportunity.”
Aru rode to 13th in the Abu Dhabi Tour and 12th in Tirreno-Adriatico. He abandoned the Volta a Cataluyna after a crash in stage 1 injured his left leg. He suffered through six stages, but eventually pulled the plug and took some needed rest.
The five-day Tour of the Alps, going from Trentino in Italy and over the border to Austria, will be a test for the Giro. Grand tour star Froome (Sky), Miguel Angel López (Astana), and other Giro contenders are also on the start list.
“The Giro has always had many champions at the start and it makes no sense to rank them. I do not want to belittle anyone, and you should never underestimate the Giro,” Aru said.
“Tom Dumoulin comes back to win, that’s for sure, Esteban Chaves finished second in 2016, my former teammate Miguel Lopez started off very well this year and will definitely be a very dangerous rival.”
Froome stands above the other rivals for 2018 with already four Tour de France titles and the Vuelta a España last summer. However, his presence is controversial after he tested over the limit for asthma drug Salbutamol in the Vuelta and faces a possible ban when the sports tribunal eventually rules.
“Froome? I am confident that a right decision will be made,” Aru added. When asked about him racing while some say he should sit out, Aru said, “I did not even think about it, honestly.”
Aru will spend the days around the Tour of the Alps previewing some of the stages mountain stages, including Zoncolan. “It will be also important to ride the Trento time trial,” he said. “It is not a stage that favors me but the team and I are working hard at improving in time trials.”