Vincenzo Nibali is playing with fire and ash and lava.
Which is dangerous but sometimes you have to take risks if you want to win the Giro. The Shark is there with teammates for two weeks of high altitude training but maybe he should watch out. Things could get crazy.
According to non-UCI approved volcano experts, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. Sort of like Nibali, eruption in training.
As recently as this last April, 2010 there was an explosion from the East vent and then ash emissions in November. So far nothing this year but the Liquigas boys should make sure they have a fast escape route planned.
In 2003 an eruption spewed ash all the way to Libya and maybe that’s why Qaddafi is still pissed off at everybody. Ash and sand is sort of an oil and water combination. According to wikipedia, footage from the eruptions was recorded by Lucasfilm and integrated into the landscape of the planet Mustafar in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We’re not claiming Nibali is out for revenge, he just wants to win the Giro and get a date with Giro madrina Cristiana Capotondi.
Mount Etna will figure prominently in the Giro in stage 9 and Nibali is not only training but doing the full recon. He’s putting the time to good use.
“These are 15 days in which I can free my head from daily concerns and relax mentally,” he said. “The stress in the coming months will be high: it’s good to prepare for this too. Moreover, it’s important to cement the spirit of the group: you win a big tour with the legs and with harmony among your teammates.”
In other words, volcanos bring people together. According to Adrian Room’s book Placenames of the World, the name Etna is said to have originated from a Phoenician word attuna meaning “furnace.” That’s a wiki cut and paste but you can feel the heat. If the heat is too hot, get out of the kitchen in Etna and lose the Giro.
So Nibali stays close to the volcano. Perhaps the perfect training for the red hot competiton and stress of the Giro.