Nibali is a rider who needs the long, harder mountain stages in the third week to really make his mark.
If winter-like weather forces changes in the decisive mountain stages in the Giro’s final week, it could undermine the Italian’s hopes of winning a third pink jersey.
“The risk of adverse weather in the third week may actually be a problem, but not just for me,” Nibali said. “I have some concerns, but we’ll see after day to know the evolution, and decide our strategies accordingly.”
Giro organizers already have worked up some alternative routes for the key, high-altitude stages in the final week of the race.
The Giro’s penultimate stage over the high Alps will likely be rerouted over the Colle de Finestre, with the finish line in Sestriere. That’s similar terrain where Chris Froome sprung his long-distance attack to win the 2018 Giro, but with a different finish line.
Running out of high-altitude road could be trouble for Nibali, who pulled his own long-distance heist to win the 2016 Giro over the high-altitude passes that year in the Alps.
“I’ve always preferred longer climbs, and of course, without these, the approach to the race could change a lot,” Nibali said on Monday’s rest day.
Another twist in this Giro will be potentially colder weather waiting in the second half. Sunday’s stage already saw riders racing through cold and wet weather.
With the race running until October 25, this Giro is racing into the unknown, racing from warmer to cooler temperatures as the race pushes north.
“The resistance to colder temperatures will be determinant in this Giro,” Nibali said. “Riders have very low body fat. Choosing the right clothes and getting the right food is going to prove decisive.”
Nibali still likes his chances, and expects to do well in the two remaining time trials as well as come to the fore in the looming mountains in the north.
He knows his chances are better if the weather holds out, and the highest climbs and passes can be contested. If not, his approach to the Giro will have change dramatically.