SAN MARINO (VN) — Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) showed that he is very much in the game in the 2019 Giro d’Italia on stage 9’s time trial.
When the race climbed the rain-soaked roads into the Republic of San Marino, an enclave near Italy’s east coast, Nibali showed the talent that already won him the Giro twice, the 2014 Tour de France, and the 2010 Vuelta a España.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) blasted his rivals in the 34.8km time trial, but Nibali lost only 1:05 minutes to his rival. It seemed almost a victory for Nibali, who was expected to lose more. At the same time, he put around two minutes into 2018 Vuelta a España winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
“A win is much more beautiful,” Nibali said when asked if his ride was like a win.
Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) still leads thanks to his long escape Thursday. In the classification of potential race winners, Roglic leads by 1:44 over Nibali, 1:55 on Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), 2:18 on Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and 3:46 on Yates.
“You know, the time trial is always important. You have to defend yourself against the TT specialist who also goes very well in the mountains. So from this point of the view, Roglic is a very good TT rider who also goes very well in the mountains,” Nibali said.
“He’s obviously the one who gained the most on everybody. The climbers needed to lose a bit less. I think I did a good time trial in that sense, and now we’ll look ahead.”
After a rest day tomorrow and some mixed stages after that, the riders face their first serious mountain day to Lago Serrù on Friday.
“It was very good to gain something on Yates. Roglic is a specialist so losing a minute to him is all right,” Nibali continued.
“Is it now a Roglic-Nibali duel? No, it’s not like that. It’s too early to say that. There are still a lot of leaders. They still want to play their cards.
“I’m still keeping the other GC riders like Landa, Yates and Lopez in consideration, the riders who have lost a bit more will have to attack and that will make the race more interesting.”
For those Nibali tifosi and fans of Italian cycling, today’s ride gave spark to their fire. It seemed the 34-year-old might not be in the mix in 2019, but as they say in Italian, “Nibali c’è.”
“In this moment, yes, I’m in it. I’m certainly looking to fight,” he said.
“I’ve trained and worked hard for this objective, I’ll look to give the best of myself. There are a lot of hard days ahead of us still so you have to go one step at a time.”