Aru could have shot at Tour de France glory in 2016

With teammate Vincenzo Nibali expected to race the Giro d'Italia, Fabio Aru may have the green light to go for yellow in France.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Italian Fabio Aru, the 2015 Vuelta a España victor, could have a green light to lead team Astana at the 2016 Tour de France with team star and countryman Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro d’Italia.

Nibali is due to return to the Giro in 2016 after two years focused in France, winning the Tour in 2014 and placing fourth this season.

If Nibali stays home for the Italian grand tour, Aru could race his first Tour de France after this year placing second to Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo in the Giro and winning the Vuelta in a nail-biting, final mountain stage.

“I’ve never done the Tour, I’ve done the Giro three times, the Vuelta twice …” said the 25-year-old Sardinian. “I haven’t seen the Tour’s course yet, the Giro’s yes. It’s beautiful, hard, with a mountain time trail, too. I have to see the Tour course and talk with the team.

“What I’d like to have in the Tour? Stages like Alpe d’Huez or Ventoux.”

Organizer ASO will present its 2016 Tour route on October 20.

Aru’s announcement will come during the team’s camp at the end of November in Montecatini Terme, near where many masterpieces were created in Florence. Aru’s magnum opus could take start in the Tuscan countryside as well.

As an amateur cyclist, Aru won the Giro della Val d’Aosta twice and placed second behind American Joe Dombrowski in the GiroBio, or Baby Giro d’Italia. The Italian press marked him as its next star.

As a professional, he made his debut in grand tours in the 2013 Giro that he helped Nibali win. The next year, with Nibali heading for Tour glory, Aru placed third behind Colombians Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Urán. In the Vuelta, he won two mountain stages in 2014. Last month, he won the Vuelta’s overall title in a fight with Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin.

In doing so, he has raced little in France and seldom against Sky’s Chris Froome, the 2013 and 2015 Tour king. The idea is that Aru now needs to take the next step in the biggest race and against the biggest names, like Froome, if he is going to have a chance to create his own masterpiece.

“Chris already won two Tours in three years, he placed second the year before. You have to respect him,” Aru added.

“He’s showed already to be capable of so much in this sport. For sure, I’m going to get there ready to race.”

Aru began the Giro d’Italia under-prepared and worried the team. After calling off the Giro del Trentino due to a stomach virus, he had to rush to be ready for the Giro. He nearly paid dearly, but he saved himself in the race’s third week with two mountain stage wins and a second place overall.

He does not want to make the same mistake again. In November, he will decide with Astana his winter training program and where to begin his 2016 campaign.

“The program changes [based on the Tour] and the lead-up races change, as well,” Aru added. “For sure, I’d like to start the season a little bit better prepared.”

Aru’s 2015 program ends this week in the Abu Dhabi Tour, October 8-11. He will support Nibali, who is coming off a victory in Il Lombardia.