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After stage 15, Nibali sits in eighth place overall, 2:58 behind the maglia rosa Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), and is determined to have an impact on the race.
“I definitely want to try to leave my mark,” he said after the stage, “but it won’t be easy because I’m also well up in the rankings.”
“So, as happened yesterday, as soon as I moved they were immediately ready on my wheel and never left any space. So it’s also normal that it’s like that.”
The Italian has proven himself to be one of the strongest climbers in the race.
On stage 14, he formed one quarter of an elite group out front that also contained Carapaz, Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), while he remained in touch with the overall contenders on the climb up to Blockhaus.
But, on the first mountain test of the Giro on Mount Etna, Nibali lost more than two minutes to the overall contenders, leaving him stranded in that no-man’s land between targeting the GC and targeting stage victories.
“I noticed that something has changed compared to the first week,” he said after stage 15. “I’m better, but it’s also true that unfortunately my season started a bit late because of the problem I had, where I had to stop and start again in March with all the preparation.”
Nibali’s preparation for the Giro was beset by COVID and tonsilitis, and so he did not begin racing until late-March.
“Maybe I arrived at the Giro d’Italia a little behind the others but not too far,” he said. “Let’s see what happens in the third week.”
The third week of the race is back-loaded and contains four mountain stages.
Even if the course lends itself to aggressive racing, however, the conditions must be conducive to attacks as well. Otherwise, as was the case on stage 15, it is pointless to attack.
“I was fine today, but it’s a long haul to get here to Cogne,” Nibali said. “There was a strong tailwind and I felt really good in the wheels. But Ineos kept a check on everyone. Bora also had a lot of men with them, so it was practically useless to try and make an attack.”