Category: Fabio Aru

Aru pulls out of world championships due to poor form

MILAN, Italy (AFP) — Italian rider Fabio Aru announced Sunday he will not compete in the road race world championships in Austria next week.

“Reluctantly, after consulting with coach Davide Cassani, I’ve decided to waive the call-up to the Italian national team for the world championships in Innsbruck,” the 28-year-old said on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, my condition is not where I’d like it to be and, in all likelihood, would not allow me to honor my call-up,” added the former Vuelta a España winner, who crashed on the stage race earlier this month.

“It’s a difficult choice but I think it is right to leave room for those who can count on a better condition right now,” he said.

Aru had been selected on a provisional 12-man Italy team for the world championships from September 23 to 30.

Veteran Vincenzo Nibali — who has won all the Grand Tours including the Tour de France in 2014 — has been called up for the Italian team but has also been struggling for form.

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Aru apologizes to Ernesto Colnago for stage 17 meltdown

LLEIDA, Spain (VN) — Ernesto Colnago wants Italy’s star rider Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) to show some respect for the bicycles he races on.

Overnight, Aru had to call the famous frame maker and ask for forgiveness after cursing at his bike several times on live television during the Vuelta a España‘s stage 17. Colnago sponsors Aru’s UAE team.

On Wednesday, late in the stage, the 2015 Vuelta winner crashed and stood up, repeatedly shouting “Cazzo di bici!” — translated as: “shit bike!” That phrase zipped through the airwaves and rang through the internet, soon reaching Colnago’s Cambiago headquarters near Milan.

“You know how many riders in these 60 years who’ve raced on my bikes,” Colnago told Tutto Bici. “You know our story.

“I understand everything and everyone, but this is a very bad episode, which hurt me. I accept the apologies, but I ask everyone for respect. Fabio understood.”

Aru also yelled that his derailleur was blocked. The team said that before the crash, he was trying to get the chain from the 11- to 12-tooth rear cog using his hand.

The episode punctuates Aru’s terrible season. Team UAE signed him and took the Sardinian to the Giro d’Italia to win. Aru never showed the form that he had when he finished second and third in past editions. He abandoned on stage 19.

He explained tests showed he has some dietary problems. He changed his diet and returned to racing. He hoped the Vuelta would be an opportunity to build toward the world championships — perhaps he could even earn a stage win or place in the overall. Instead, he crashed in stage 2 and again in stage 17.

“I understand he’s having a bad season and it’s all going wrong for him,” Colnago said. “I told him that he has to be professional and that things will go his way sooner or later.

“If his gears were blocked, then he wouldn’t have crashed, but locked up. The bike’s not at fault.”

Aru climbed back on his bike and raced to the Balcón de Bizkaia finish, where Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) won from an escape. Aru finished 14:14 behind. His ripped shorts revealed blood running down his backside.

Fabio Aru
Fabio Aru struggled home on stage 17 after crashing before the final climb. Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media |

The team manager Joxean Fernández Matxin spoke with Aru after the stage. He said this morning ahead of stage 18 that he understands Aru was upset. “Anyone would be crashing at 70km an hour,” Matxin said. “He didn’t need to apologize.”

Last night, though, Aru called Colnago to ease the tensions. Earlier this year, the team reportedly was ready to make a deal with Bianchi bicycles for 2019. However, over the last month, it agreed to stay with Colnago.

“I took an impact to my lower back, which worries me, as well as the pain,” Aru said. “We were descending at 70km and it could have been a lot worse.

“I apologize for how I reacted after the crash but my adrenaline was running. I was aching and you lose the control sometimes. I hope to recover quickly. We’ll see tomorrow morning, it depends on how I get through the night.”

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Aru bullish at Vuelta after poor season start

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — It was a spring to forget for Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), but he is finding some satisfaction in his Vuelta a España return.

The Sardinian with the big smile returned to the Spanish grand tour, which he won in 2015, to find redemption after a horrible start to the 2018 season.

Three days in and ahead of the biggest Vuelta test yet, he said, “I’m quite satisfied with how my legs responded in the final, it was not easy to be brilliant, especially for the heat.”

Tuesday’s stage 4 sees the Vuelta a España field, including red jersey leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), climb into the Alfaguara Mountain Range north of Granada. The final climb travels 12.4 kilometers to Alfacar, a village that takes its name from the Arabic term al-Fajjar that means clay.

Aru will have a chance to reshape his season on the climb to Alfacar and in the weeks to come.

He was forced to skip the Tour de France after abandoning the Giro d’Italia “completely empty” in stage 19. The Italian champion began the Giro in May as a favorite but never could find the shape that took him to his 2010 Vuelta victory or allowed him to win a stage and wear the yellow jersey in the 2017 Tour.

Aru, who is paid around 2.5 million euros a year, has not won since the 2017 Tour de France. Alarm bells rang in May when he quit the Giro.

When the dust settled on the Giro, the 28-year-old underwent several exams.It turned out he was not quite gluten intolerant, but his body struggles to absorb pasta and carbohydrates well. He now limits their intake and avoids dairy products.

So far, the plan is going well. Aru returned to racing with a 10th overall in the Tour de Wallonie and a 10th in the Tour of Poland earlier in August.

In the Vuelta, Kwiatkowski leads the race by 14 seconds over stage 2 winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). On that first test to Caminito del Rey, Aru was just eight seconds behind Valverde.

“Some of the classification guys were just ahead of me,” Aru said that day. “Others were right beside me, and others were further back.”

Aru made early gains on Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), Miguel Angel López (Astana), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Richie Porte (BMC Racing).

The Emirates team has faith in its skinny climber with the big smile. General manager Giuseppe Saronni, a former Giro d’Italia winner and world champion, said the climb to Alfacar suits Aru’s characteristics well, with its tough middle section of 11 percent leading up to 1,440 meters above sea level. The team doctors explained that a person needs five to six days to adjust to the hot southern Spain weather. Saronni believes Aru is now ready.

“I do not know anything about [Tuesday’s] climb,” said race leader Kwiatkowski, “but it’s the heat that is now in this area of Spain you have to know how to manage your strength.”

“This is going to be the first test to check each other’s strength,” said 2016 Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar). “It will be a good test for the general classification hopefuls.”

“I’m just going to evaluate the situation on the road,” Aru said of the day ahead, “and not do anything too aggressive.”

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Martin, Aru set to make Vuelta start for UAE

UAE Team Emirates will bring plenty of climbing firepower to the start of the Vuelta a España start this weekend in Málaga, with both Dan Martin and Fabio Aru set to attend the three-week race.

After winning a stage and delivering an eighth-place overall performance at the Tour de France, Martin will hope to carry his form to the Vuelta. The Spanish grand tour was the scene of his first career grand tour stage victory back in 2011.

Aru, on the other hand, did not deliver the performance he was hoping for in his first grand tour appearance this season at the Giro d’Italia. The 28-year-old Italian will hope to bounce back in Spain.

“I arrive from a first part of the season in which I did not get the results I was looking for, but from the defeats you can learn important lessons and all this gives me great motivation,” Aru said. “It will be a tactically open Vuelta, the nine summit finishes will lend themselves to attacks. And I must beware of short stages, they will have a big impact on the general classification.”

If both Aru and Martin can manage to ride at their best in Spain, UAE could be a formidable team in the mountains.

“Aru will be our man for the general classification, in addition we will be able to count on Daniel Martin, back from an excellent Tour de France and looking for more good results in some stage finishes particularly suited to him,” said team manager Joxean Matxin.

Completing the roster for UAE Team Emirates are Norwegians Vegard Stake Laengen and Sven Erik Bystrøm and the Italian quartet of Valerio Conti, Simone Consonni, Simone Petilli, and Edward Ravasi.

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Aru among six riders penalized in Giro TT

Fabio Aru was among six riders penalized for slipstreaming in Tuesday’s stage 16 time trial at the Giro d’Italia.

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Aru continues to struggle at Giro

Fabio Aru still got big cheers outside the UAE-Emirates team bus Sunday morning, but he’s done little to excite the tifosi so far during

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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.

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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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