Nibali versus the Skybots.
The Shark from Messina is working out his strategic plans before the Giro d’Italia.
Vincenzo Nibali has now beaten Skybot number 1, Bradley Wiggins, in the Giro del Trentino and Skybot 2, Chris Froome, in Tirreno Adriatico. Not many people can make that claim of late including Alberto Contador.
What he’s learned is that given his top form, confidence, aggressive racing tactics and plain good fortune, he can derail the Sky machine that proved so dominant in stage racing last year.
The only hitch is that he’s discovered that he’ll need a large measure of good luck to win the Giro d’Italia. Based on his experiences so far, he’ll require A) miserable weather conditions with hard rain and wind and or B) a serious mechanical shutting down his Sky rival.
In stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico, Nibali stole the race from Froome in miserable weather conditions. The pounding rain and cold threw Froome off his game and caused an error in judgement — he decided on a vest instead of a long sleeve rain jacket. It was a wardroom malfunction and Froome lost his 30 lead to the Italian. Nibali had another trident with which to poke people.
In Trentino, Nibali again attacked in the final stage four climb of Sega di Ala to take the overall victory from Wiggins. This time around Nibali showed he had the legs and a functioning drivetrain while Wiggins had so much trouble with his gears that he threw his Pinarello up against a rock wall.
Two unforeseen events, two malfunctions, a mechanical and a wardrobical and suddenly Nibali has two big wins on the way to the Giro d’Italia. Meanwhile Wiggins comes in with no individual wins — a far cry from his dominance last year.
Speaking of Skybots, there’s one crucial part in the machine that’s missing this season: Director Sportif Sean Yates, the man who guided Wiggo to a historic Tour de France victory.
Yates was either a victim of Sky’s Zero Tolerance policy or just a guy who suddenly decided his health issues suddenly dictated an immediate retirement. Not a scale back, not a less stressful position at Sky, just gone.
Wiggins has admitted that he sorely misses Yates for his experience and motivational skills. The Brit is missing a vital cog and we’ll shortly see how much that matters.
All this to say that while Nibali is in superb condition and riding with confidence, he might also need the Unforeseen Event to climb the top step of the podium and smash the Skybots.
He has to pray there is rain and cold and mechanical issues and that Wiggins suffers without Yates in the team car guiding him forward.