Cycling

Nibali tuning up for TDF

Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)
Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)

Al Mussanah - Ten days after his season opening race in Dubai, Italy's Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, returns to the peloton on Tuesday and a tougher test in the Tour of Oman.

The 30-year-old Sicilian, who finished seventh in Oman last year, is looking forward to a race more suited to his climbing skills unlike Dubai which was predominantly a sprinters race.

"In Dubai, it was a course only for the fast riders. But here the course is harder because there are two summit finishes and one at the Green Mountains which is a valley stage," explained Nibali who also won the Giro d'Italia in 2013.

"I can go for a stage win and after that we'll see. In Europe it is very cold at the moment while here we have some very warm temperatures so it's an important opportunity.

"It is not necessarily a huge objective but just a step in our preparation for upcoming races such as the Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-SanRemo which are more important for the team," continued the Astana rider.

The Italian champion says he has prepared well in the off-season for his Tour de France defence, a race where he also finished third in 2012.

"I feel really good, I've got good legs but it's only the second race. This year, I've followed a really good training programme during the winter and I feel completely serene, just taking it step by step.

"The Tour de France is a major objective for me and the team and of course victory is the best result we can expect. The rivals will still be Alberto (Contador), (Nairo) Quintana, Joaquim Rodriguez and surely a surprise rider, the young Frenchman Romain Bardet (6th in 2014), perhaps.

"I'll also be racing the classics such as the Amstel Gold Race, the Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege which is the one I like the most and want to win.

"I'm not one of the fastest riders which is a problem for one day races but with a bit of luck....I'll keep believing.

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