Category: Fabio Aru

Aru returns to Tour of the Alps with eye on Giro pink

Fabio Aru returns to the Giro d’Italia this May a changed man. Now, he has experience, which he wants to use to win.

Read the full article at Aru returns to Tour of the Alps with eye on Giro pink on VeloNews.com.

Aru’s Italian national jersey sparks debate

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Controversy reigned when Italian Fabio Aru revealed his new 2018 team kit and subdued national champion’s jersey with the tricolor looking more like the United Arab Emirates flag.

Aru switched from team Astana to team UAE Emirates for this season. The new jersey design, morphed to resemble his teammates’s normal trade jerseys, look nothing similar to the bold red, white, and green top that he wore with team Astana.

“Aru’s jersey is a joke,” someone commented on Twitter.

“This is the jersey of the Italian champion?” another fan said.

“It’s a great pity to see the tricolor ruined again like that,” another wrote. “It was nice and exciting to see Aru in the group at the Tour de France wearing the traditional colors.”

Teams began revealing their kits in December and most finished doing so this week as the calendar turned to 2018.

Aru won the famous tricolor top after winning the Italian national road race last summer. Larry Warbasse won the U.S. road title and his Aqua Blue Sport team created a visible stars and stripes top for him. He continues to wear it into the new season, at least until the 2018 event.

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The years have raced by since Italian Fausto Coppi wore the red, white, and green top to victory in Paris-Roubaix. Or when Frenchman Bernhard Hinault crushed his rivals as national champion, with blue over his shoulders, white on his chest, and red covering the lower third of his jersey.

Teams’s budgets have soared since 2000. Team Sky runs on nearly $42 million annually. U.S.-registered EF Education First has about a $16 million budget. In return, teams want to showcase their sponsors, the star riders, and the bicycles they ride.

For some teams like Quick-Step Floors, which has a strong influence in Belgium, having the national champion’s jersey well-represented brings a sense of pride. Who can forget Belgian Philippe Gilbert crossing the line in the Tour of Flanders in his black, yellow, and red top?

For other more international teams such as Trek-Segafredo, so many different national champions and jerseys disrupted the team harmony and spirit that the sponsor is paying into.

“If Ferrari goes and leads on Formula One, they will never paint their car yellow or something,” one team manager wishing to withhold his name told VeloNews.

“If Munich Bayern becomes the Bundesliga champion, they will not give up their jersey for one with the German flag. They just will not do it.”

In the trend of subdued national jerseys, team FDJ let Ramon Sinkeldam show his Dutchness in full. He posted a photograph on Twitter this week with a simple top — one-third red, one-third white, and one-third blue — with simple logos from the French lottery company FDJ. French teammate and national champion Arnaud Démare posted a photograph of a similar design, but with the French ordering of colors: blue, white, red.

Fans loved it. One wrote, “Perfect Jersey! And this is what we expect for all nationals champions kit!”

It contrasted sharply with Sinkeldam’s look at Sunweb in 2017. The team, as with UAE and Fabio Aru’s design, printed only minimal national jersey designs.

“This is only a provisional version,” Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport when he revealed the jersey. “The fans can relax, the colors of the Italian flag will be clear. The ‘true’ jersey will be presented later, it’s elegant and beautiful, I guarantee it.”

Aru responded by posting a photograph on Instagram a slightly modified design. Fans still remained disappointed. One wrote, “Fabio, the tricolor should be honored. I hope that this one is not the one for races.”

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It is not the first time in Italy such controversy brewed. Filippo Pozzato’s national champion’s jersey when he raced for Katusha in 2009 caused a storm. Also, team Movistar’s design for Giovanni Visconti hardly stood out among the normal issue jerseys.

Spanish champion Jesus Herrada had the same problem at his home team Movistar. Not until this year, when he switched to Cofidis, could he don a true red and yellow top.

Team managers must delicately balance the national demands with those of big budget sponsors like the Arab state UAE and $23 billion airline company Emirates.

“This is the world of cycling now,” team UAE Emirates manager Giuseppe Saronni said. “I understand the fans, but there are many demands to be satisfied.”

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Who’s racing grand tours in 2018

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — With 2018 around the corner, only a few uncertainties remain for next season’s grand tours and their star competitors. Sky’s Chris Froome decided his program will include both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. The rest are following as the winter days and team camps pass.

The Santos Tour Down Under starts the 2018 WorldTour season on January 16. Right before that, the Vuelta a España will unveil its route on January 13. And along the way, we will see the confirmation of schedules for riders like Sky’s Mikel Landa and Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin.

Perhaps this is the greatest suspense of the off-season, with photographs circulating of riders already in their new team colors trickling out — Marcel Kittel and Ian Boswell in Katusha’s red — and the grand tour routes reported days or weeks before the actual presentations. Giro director Mauro Vegni said last month, “By now, you all know everything because it seems that it’s a race among the media outlets to publish the route in advance, be we still have something important to unveil with regards to the participants.”

The certainties outweigh the unknowns. Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida has his eyes on the Tour and wants to prove the 2014 victory was not simply due to Froome abandoning in the first week. He would love to return to the Giro, where he supported Ivan Basso before going on to win titles in 2013 and 2016 and placing third behind Dumoulin this May, but pride drives him.

The alleged decision of organizer RCS Sport to cater to Froome reportedly upset Nibali. Also, those whispers about the 2014 Tour cannot be ignored. These reasons could affect Nibali’s decision to skip his home race and go abroad to the Tour.

It was not an easy decision to make. “Sicily is back on the Giro route next year, a second year in a row, which has never happened,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport during the Giro presentation last month. “And then the goal of winning the Giro three times is enticing, there are not many who’ve done so.”

Nibali and his team will meet this this week in Hvar, Croatia, where the 2018 plan will be put together.

Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Richie Porte (BMC Racing) will be among the star riders heading directly to the Tour on July 7 in Vendée. At BMC Racing’s camp in Denia, Spain, Porte confirmed his plan with support coming from American Tejay van Garderen. Porte, in the form of his life, crashed this summer on the wet downhill heading to Chambéry during stage 9 and had to exit the race. It was “hard to take” for Porte but he said he is “motivated even more for next year.”

Quintana, winner of the 2014 Giro and the 2016 Vuelta, will try to take care of unfinished business in the Tour. He finished second twice and third once behind Froome. This year, he fell short in his Giro-Tour double by placing second behind Dumoulin in the Giro and 12th in the Tour. Quintana said last week he will focus on the Tour in 2018:

The Tour de France could be more open than before, with Froome trying for a slice of history. He will race the Giro after winning both the Tour and Vuelta in 2017. He would be only the third rider ever to win three consecutive grand tours if he succeeds at winning in Italy. After that, he’ll aim for a fifth Tour title. Rivals and teammates have taken note.

Sky’s Geraint Thomas will skip the Giro and race the Tour in support of Froome, but also as a serious plan B. He will focus on the Vuelta later in the summer. “Obviously Froomey will still be the leader going into it, but it might be more of a chance for me to have more of a go myself,” Thomas told BBC Wales regarding the Tour. “The Vuelta after that could be a potential race for me to go into in the full team leader role.”

Added Dumoulin recently: “Will [Froome] be worn down in the Tour? I think he showed an even better form in the Vuelta this summer than in the Tour, so you never know with him. But I don’t look to other riders for making a decision about any kind of race.”

Dumoulin and Spaniard Mikel Landa remain the big uncertainties heading toward the new season. Dumoulin will announce his grand tour plan at the team’s presentation on January 4. La Gazzetta dello Sport, which has links to Giro organizer RCS Sport, claims he will return to defend his title. Those close to the Dutchman, however, say his eyes are only on the Tour in 2018.

Landa, according to one source, will lead Movistar in the Tour against his former team leader Froome. The Spanish WorldTour squad will send Alejandro Valverde to the Giro and a super-team led by Landa, Quintana, and Valverde to the Tour. That remains to be confirmed at the team’s presentation Thursday.

Italian Fabio Aru will lead his new UAE Emirates team at the Giro and will try to win his home race after placing third and second and canceling his plans to race earlier this year after a last-minute crash. He went to the Tour instead and won a stage, held the yellow jersey, and placed fifth. His new teammate Dan Martin will take aim at the 2018 Tour.

Australian Rohan Dennis confirmed he will continue his four-year plan to transform from a time trial rider into a grand tour contender. He will have BMC Racing’s support for the overall at the Giro.

“I was inspired how Dumoulin raced the Giro,” Dennis said. “He raced physically and mentally, and he stayed positive no matter what happened in the stage. It’s possible for the type of rider I am to be good in the grand tours.”

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Fabio Aru ‘will race the Giro and Vuelta’

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Italian champion Fabio Aru is finalizing his schedule for the 2018 season, when he will debut with team UAE Emirates, and highlighted the Giro d’Italia as his number one aim.

Aru raced the 2017 Tour de France this summer after a knee injury forced him to cancel his Giro d’Italia plans. He went on to win the Planche des Belles Filles stage, wear the yellow leader’s jersey for two days, and place fifth overall. The pink overall leader’s jersey, however, remains in his heart.

“Yes, I’m going to make the Giro my aim,” Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Aru will be one of several stars lined up for the 2018 race. Others, still unconfirmed, could include Mikel Landa (with Movistar in 2018), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), and perhaps Chris Froome (Sky).

“I heard that Chris Froome is thinking about racing,” Aru added. “He is a big champion and a tough cookie. I hope he’s at the Giro, the race would be even more prestigious. And I like hard competition.”

The 2018 edition will start in Jerusalem and stay in Israel for three days. The presentation of the remainder of the route will take place Wednesday in Milan. Insiders told VeloNews, however, the race will travel south from Sicily to the north with eight summit finishes, including Monte Zoncolan. The final week will include a 34.5-kilometer time trial. The race is due to finish in Rome outside the Vatican.

Aru placed second and third overall already in the Giro. He missed the occasion of a lifetime last year with the race celebrating 100 editions and starting in Sardinia, his home island. While training in Spain for the race, he fell and injured his knee.

The injury forced him into a rest and rushed Tour preparation. He competed in the Vuelta and ended his year with Il Lombardia. He said then, “It’s been two years since I’ve been to the Giro, and the Corsa Rosa is close to my heart.”

With La Gazzetta dello Sport, he indicated that his 2018 schedule was still being planned with his new UAE Emirates team and manager Giuseppe Saronni, but in the same breath, he named the Giro as his target.

“I’m sure I will be in the Abu Dhabi Tour, I do not know if it will be my season debut or not. Then Tirreno-Adriatico in March, while I have a question mark between Milano-Sanremo and the Volta a Catalonia,” he said. “The Tour of the Alps [Trentino] is important because one stage will be on the world championship circuit in Innsbruck, which I am aiming for. I would like to make a debut at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. With the worlds in mind, the Vuelta it is compulsory.”

UAE has yet to say, but it is expected to lead with Dan Martin in the Tour de France. Martin said after he announced his transfer from Quick-Step to UAE, that he would have no problem sharing the calendar with Aru and that the two could complement each other when racing in the same events.

“Astana helped me realize a dream when they signed me into the professional ranks five years ago,” Aru continued. “I learned much and I’m grateful for the time that we had together, but it was the time to change teams and have new experiences.

“After two podiums in the Giro and the Vuelta win [in 2015], my possibilities have changed. In the new team, the expectations are higher, as well as my motivation.”

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Astana left without a top GC captain; Vinokourov disappointed to see Aru go

Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov couldn’t hide his disappointment that Fabio Aru decided to jump ship.

The Italian star left the team where he made his pro debut in 2012, and penned a three-year deal to join UAE-Emirates. In what appeared to be an open secret was a bit of a shock, at least according to Vinokourov.

“Aru had another optional year with us, and he never warned us of his desire to leave,” Vinokourov told L’Equipe. “We asked him what his plans were on numerous occasions, but he never answered us.”

Aru’s exit leaves Astana in a bind. One of the peloton’s best-funded teams will enter next year’s WorldTour racing season without a major grand tour contender on its roster.

Vinokourov said the team only learned of Aru’s departure when he read the official team press release Tuesday, just hours before the course presentation of the 2018 Tour de France.

“I only learned about it in the press release. I am very disappointed in him,” Vinokourov said. “It puts us in a difficult situation because of the time of year. It will be impossible to find a replacement of his level, someone able to win the Tour de France.”

With most of the major GC stars committed to contracts, Vinokourov will have almost no chance to find a top rider to take Aru’s place at this stage of a busy transfer season.

Vinokourov said that the team explored signing Rigoberto Urán when it appeared Cannondale-Drapac might fold. He also revealed that Nairo Quintana’s agent approached the team during the Tour about possible interest in signing with the Kazakhs.

Neither of those options panned out. Urán is staying with the renamed Education First-Drapac team for 2018, while Quintana also confirmed intention to stay with Movistar.

Without Aru, and the departure of Vincenzo Nibali to Bahrain-Merida at the end of 2015 coupled with the tragic death of Michele Scarponi this spring, leaves the powerful Astana team without a marquee rider to lead in the grand tours.

Jakob Fuglsang, seventh in the 2013 Tour, will be back for next season. Injury knocked the 32-year-old out of this year’s Tour after taking a dramatic victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. Miguel Ángel López, 23, will see more opportunities, but he only completed his first grand tour last month at the Vuelta a España, riding to eighth overall with two stage wins. Neither is considered front-line yellow jersey contenders.

Aru is the latest arrival to the bolstered UAE-Emirates roster for 2018 that also includes new arrivals Dan Martin, Alexander Kristoff, and Rory Sutherland.

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UAE-Emirates confirms Aru arrival

UAE-Emirates confirmed cycling’s worst-kept secret Tuesday, announcing that Fabio Aru will join on a three-year deal.

The 27-year-old Italian leaves Astana, his professional home since 2012, to join the ever improving lineup at the Emirati team.

“With his performances, he will contribute to promoting an ideal team image,” said UAE-Emirates manager Carlo Saronni. “He will likely help us reach important competitive milestones.”

Aru is the latest arrival to the bolstered UAE-Emirates roster for 2018 that also includes new arrivals Dan Martin, Alexander Kristoff, and Rory Sutherland.

Aru turned pro with Astana in 2012 and later won the 2015 Vuelta a España with the team as well as stages in all three grand tours.

At Astana, Aru shared leadership with Vincenzo Nibali through 2016, after which the Sicilian switched to Bahrain-Merida for 2017. At UAE-Emirates, he will split the calendar with Martin.

“I thank [UAE-Emirates] for the faith they’ve placed in me, and I hope to live up to their expectations,” Aru said.

Aru is expected to tackle the Giro in 2018, opening the door for Martin to return to the Tour.

Aru’s departure from Astana, coupled with the tragic death of Michele Scarponi this year, leaves the Kazakh team short of GC leadership. The squad doesn’t look to be adding a big name for 2018, meaning it will lean on Jakob Fuglsang and emerging star Miguel Ángel López. New arrivals Jan Hirt (12th in the 2017 Giro) and Spanish climber Omar Fraile will see more opportunities.

Aru’s move is the latest in what’s been a surprisingly busy rider market going into 2018.

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Aru looks to finish challenging season with Il Lombardia win

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — With his knee injury and Astana teammate Michele Scarponi’s death, Fabio Aru is surviving a hard season. The Italian wants to end in style with Il Lombardia on Saturday, and he is promising to deliver “a good show” to his fans.

The Sardinian cyclist, fifth in the Tour de France, placed third in Thursday’s Milano-Torino behind winner Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac).

“I certainly want to give the maximum through until the end in what is a very hard race,” Aru said. “I know the climbs. It’s a hard Lombardia route, like the last one that Vincenzo Nibali won in 2015.

“I truly want to do well. It’ll be hard to win for sure, but I hope to give the fans a good show.”

Nibali showed his critics he was still one of the best cyclists in the world in 2015. He bounced back at the end of a difficult season to win several one-day races. In Lombardia, he attacked on the final climb and rode solo along the lakeside to finish in Como.

After a year in Bergamo, where Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) won in 2016, the race returns this weekend to finish in Como. The Ghisallo and Muro di Sormano climbs should break the race into groups and the smaller finishing climbs Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia should produce the winner.

“I’ve been out to try it twice after the Vuelta a España,” Aru added. “I know it, but more than knowing it, you need the legs.”

Aru appears to have the legs. In Milano-Torino, Astana rode to place him in an ideal position for the finishing Superga climb near Turin. He attacked and Colombian Rigoberto Urán countered and rode away solo. Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) escaped for second and Aru held off Nairo Quintana (Movistar) for third place on the podium.

“I’m happy with the result in Milano-Torino because from Saturday, when I restarted after the Vuelta a España in Giro dell’Emilia, I’ve had good sensations. And it was even better [in Milano-Torino],” explained Aru. “So I had asked my teammates to push it to try to close to the escape. Thanks guys. Now we are concentrated on Saturday.”

With 32-year-old Nibali nearing the end of his best years, Italy looks for its stars with eyes on Aru, who already won the 2015 Vuelta, and Gianni Moscon (Sky).

Aru survived a difficult 2016 season. He canceled his Giro plans after a training crash led to knee problems. Soon after, the driver of a truck hit and killed Scarponi during a training ride.

He then refocused on the Tour de France. He won the Planche des Belles Filles stage and wore the yellow jersey for two days. However, he had to manage with a weakened team as he fought his way to fifth overall in Paris.

“I always tried to give my best in the season. I always want to win and to be at the front, logically. In fact, many times I’ve said to my girlfriend, I ask much from myself. Anyway, I’m happy with how the season went,” Aru said.

“We had a hard season with losing Michele. My teammates fell badly at the Tour, Jakob Fuglsang and Dario Cataldo. It wasn’t always easy to manage the situation. But I’m happy with my season. And, OK, now we just have one race to go, Saturday.”

Aru will leave Astana over the winter for team UAE Emirates, according to sources close to the deal. In 2018, insiders say Aru will return to the Giro and Dan Martin will lead the Tour team.

“I still don’t know what I’ll do next year, but we need to wait to see the race routes,” Aru said. “It’s been two years since I’ve been to the Giro, and the Corsa Rosa is close to my heart.”

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VN Podcast, Ep. 46: The year’s best grand tour and the Colorado Classic

Welcome to the VeloNews cycling podcast, where we discuss the latest trends, news, and controversies in the world of cycling.

What do Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Romain Bardet, Tejay van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Ilnur Zakarin, the Angliru, and the Yates brothers all have in common? They’re all in the upcoming Vuelta a Espana.

This year’s Vuelta might just be the best grand tour of the year. It certainly has the most star-studded GC field. So in this episode, Fred Dreier and Caley Fretz call up VN European Correspondant and amateur bon vivant Andrew Hood to dive into the course, the favorites, and the storylines of the impending Vuelta.

But first, let’s not forget about Colorado’s return to top-level pro racing. The innovative Colorado Classic took place last weekend, and the racing was aggressive and exciting. Is this format the future of bike racing? It might just be.

If you like what you hear, subscribe to the VeloNews podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Also, check out the VeloNews Fast Talk training podcast with Trevor Connor and Fretz.

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Some of the heroes of this year’s Tour de France by Horst Brozy

Some of the heroes of this year’s Tour de France by Horst Brozy

Aru confirmed for Vuelta, setting up rematch with Froome

The 2017 Vuelta a España just got better.

Astana confirmed Tuesday that Fabio Aru will line up for the Spanish grand tour later this month.

Aru, who won his first and only grand tour at the 2015 Vuelta, is the latest big name confirmed for the 72nd edition of the Vuelta. Notably, he’ll face off with this year’s Tour winner Chris Froome (Sky).

“After the good performance at the Tour de France,” an Astana press release stated, “Aru will return to race at the Vuelta.”

Team officials also confirmed Aru will be the team’s GC leader. Miguel Angel Lopez, Luis Leon Sánchez, and Pello Bilbao were confirmed as helpers.

With the Vuelta start, Aru’s 2017 continues to evolve. Initially, he was supposed to target the 100th Giro d’Italia, but injury sidelined him. That opened the door for the Tour, where he wore the yellow jersey and finished a career-best fifth overall.

There still is no official confirmation if Aru will stay with Astana, or leave as suggested by cycling media reports.

Aru joins four-time Tour winner Froome, 2010 Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Esteban Chaves and the Yates brothers (Orica-Scott), and Marc Soler (Movistar) as starters.

Others who are likely to start include three-time Vuelta champion Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Tejay van Garderen and Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing), as well as George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

The Vuelta begins August 19 in Nimes, France and concludes in Madrid on September 10.

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