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Nibali turns focus to Tour de France bid

Italian hopes to become second consecutive Tirreno-Adriatico winner to top Tour de France podium

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Vincenzo Nibali rode a time trial to victory at Tirreno-Adriatico Tuesday. Come July, the Liquigas-Cannondale rider will hope to do the same at the Tour de France.

A year ago, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) held the trident trophy as the champion of Tirreno-Adriatico in San Benedetto del Tronto before going on to win the Tour de France. After his come-from-behind win on Tuesday, Nibali looked ahead to July, when he will try to better his 7th overall finish in the 2009 Tour.

“The Tour? I can’t hide that it’s in my program. This is only 9km, at the Tour, there are 50km TTs; it’s different truly,” said Nibali. “This year it will be a lot more open in the absence of (Alberto) Contador, but hopefully we can have some real ambitions.”

With Ivan Basso turning his focus back to the Giro d’Italia this year, Nibali, winner of the 2010 Vuelta a España, will ride the Tour as the team leader for Liquigas. The parcours in July includes more than 100km of individual time trials, something that could suit the 27-year-old. It was in the stage 17 time trial of the Vuelta, even with a puncture, that Nibali assumed control of the leader’s jersey to win his first grand tour.

“I have yet to decide if I will do the Giro. For sure, I will race the Tour,” he said. “To go back to the Tour this year motivates me. There are a lot of time trials in this year’s Tour, so it’s good for me. I am trying to become a complete rider.”

Nibali has started two Tours de France; he finished 20th overall in 2008 and when he cracked the top-10 a year later, he wound up second in the best young rider competition to Andy Schleck. With more time trial kilometers, the Italian will enter the Tour with an upper hand on the younger Schleck brother.

Before that, however, Nibali must decide whether he will prepare with an appearance at the Giro in support of Basso.

“This year I started off strongly. I’ll have to decide on the Giro or not. I don’t want to just go there and ride around; you need to honor the race if you go,” he said. “This win caps what’s been a great start to the 2012 season. Last year wasn’t so bad. I was at a very high level all year last year, but some of the victories escaped me. This year I am winning again and I am happy about that.”

Tirreno-Adriatico results >>

Complete coverage of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico

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