LIÈGE, Belgium (AFP) —Vincenzo Nibali has promised to go on the attack whenever possible to make the Tour de France podium this year.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) are the heavy favorites. But Nibali, nicknamed the “Shark” for his aggressive racing style, is hoping to join other outsiders in making his mark in the mountain stages, some of which feature the steepest climbs in the race’s history.
“In the time trials, we’re going to try and lose as little time as possible,” Nibali said. “In the mountains is where we can make a difference, and everybody knows how I ride. I’m an aggressive rider.”
The 2010 Vuelta a España champion, Nibali is Liquigas-Cannondale’s team leader this year and will be counting on the support and experience of former Tour runner-up Ivan Basso.
He comes into the three-week race after a promising spring, during which he won Tirreno-Adriatico and finished second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
But the 25-year-old Sicilian, who finished an impressive seventh overall on his Tour debut in 2010, says that the Tour “is a different race and what you’ve done in the first half of the season does not necesarily count.”
Nonetheless, he added: “I’ve always done well in the big Tours I’ve entered, and while I’m not going to say I can win the Tour, the podium is obviously an objective.”
Nibali, a strong descender, knows he will have to take his chances on stages like the 10th, which features the climb to the Grand Colombier but finishes after a long downhill section.
“Le Grand Colombier is an interesting stage, but there are many more in which we can catch the favorites off their guard, and not necessarily in the descents,” said Nibali.
“I don’t do specific training for the descents, it comes as second nature to me. If the race circumstances permit, I will try to attack for sure.”