The Shark is not his usual tranquillo self. The first summit finish stage of the Giro d’Italia had plenty of fireworks, including Vincenzo’s Nibali’s incendiary words for Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
The Italian wasn’t happy with Roglic’s tactics as the race hit the upper slopes of the Col del Nivolet. “He let the gap go to Carapaz and Majka and wanted me to close it and I said: ‘Basta! No more!’ I told him that if he wants to win the Giro he had to ride,” said Nibali.
The two were evenly matched as they tackled the final climb, even as Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) were further up the road and pulling back signifcant time on GC. Same story for the gritty Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) who also managed to improve his overall prospects.
Nibali made a few tentative probes but decided it was not the day to go deep into the red zone. Nevertheless, he was happy to attack Roglic after the stage was over. “Roglic is well placed overall but if he continues to ride like that he won’t win this Giro. I won’t win it too but neither will he.”
We’re not sure if this is just Nibali being salty or whether he doesn’t like Roglic or is simply playing mind games. Whatever the case, Roglic shows no interest in playing and prefers to ride his own race, regardless of Nibali’s assessment. “Physically and psychologically I can say our strengths are more or less equal. There wasn’t a big difference between us,” said Nibali. If that’s the case, then the Shark might just skip the verbal shots.
Interesting that Nibali thinks the Jumbo-Visma team still holds a grudge from the 2016 Giro d’Italia when he won after their rider Steven Kruijswijk crashed in spectacular fashion while wearing the maglia rosa. “They have some problems with me because of what’s happened in the past. They’re a bit scared of me,” claimed the Italian.
Careful with that “scared” talk, Vincenzo. That kind of statement didn’t work out too well for Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who claimed in the pre-race press conference that if he were his rivals, “I would be scared, I’d be shitting myself.” Yates is now over eight minutes behind race leader.
Nibali is going to have to beat Roglic with his legs, not his tongue.