Vincenzo Nibali is similar to Marco Pantani, says Astana manager
Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 20, Giro d'Italia 2013
Vincenzo Nibali will give Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli another Grand Tour win tomorrow when he arrives in Brescia. In Martinelli's hometown, the duo will toast the Giro d'Italia win and a ride that started with Marco Pantani in 1998.
"Pantani is similar to Nibali, or Nibali is similar to Pantani," Martinelli told Cycling Weekly "It's his creative way of racing and reading the race. He has his own ideas, not to do things by the book."
Nibali rode an aggressive race. Despite having the race leader's pink jersey, he attacked to gain further time on his rivals.
After the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage today, he leads by four minutes and 43 seconds over second-placed Rigoberto Uran (Sky).
Comparing Nibali to some of Martinelli's former cyclists may be dangerous considering their doping cases. However, it is worth a look.
Martinelli won a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics for Italy and three stages of the Giro d'Italia. As a director, he guided Pantani, Stefano Garzelli, Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego to overall wins. He also helped Pantani and Contador win the Tour de France. Contador later lost his 2010 title due to a doping positive.
"I can't really take credit for Contador, who came to my team already a champion," added Martinelli. "I didn't have a chance to work with him. I only took advantage of what he already knew. He had some good directors guiding him before joining my team."
Martinelli worked hard to bring in Nibali from team Liquigas after his third place in the Tour de France last year. In fact, the deal was reportedly done before the race.
"After his 2010 Vuelta a España win, I was thinking this was a rider we needed and that we should do all we can to sign him," Martinelli said last fall.
"More than once, I spoke with my managers, but, you know, they were in love with Contador - which was normal, I was too - but I said, 'Look guys, we are going to have trouble keeping Contador. One of the riders out there, with the ability to win a Grand Tour is Nibali.' I kept repeating it, and they started to reconsider, which was helped by winning the Vuelta, placing third in the Giro the following year and third in the Tour."
At the Giro, Nibali seems comfortable in Astana colours. Different than Wiggins on his way to a Tour win, Nibali is laughing and enjoying the race lead.
"He's in an ideal team and can play his game here. He can dictate his attacking way of racing and competing," Martinelli continued this week.
"He can't feel stressed in this team, it's built for him. Then, when things are going well, everything's always easy."
Martinelli's name lives on. Davide Martinelli, 19, rode as a trainee for Sky last fall and said that he would like to join them for 2014.
"I think they want engines, 'una passista,'" he told Cycling Weekly. "I think that I could fill that role in the first years and be a good domestique."
Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage reports
Stage 20: Nibali wins to close in on overall win
Stage 19: No report, stage cancelled
Stage 18: Nibali wins time trial to extend lead
Stage 17: Visconti wins from escape
Stage 16: Intxausti continues Movistar's successful Giro with stage win
Stage 15: Visconti wins Galibier stage
Stage 14: Santambrogio wins and Nibali strengthens lead
Stage 13: Cavendish takes his fourth stage win of 2013 Giro
Stage 12: Cavendish takes 100th win as Wiggins' Giro bid faltrs
Stage 11: Navardauskas wins as favourites enjoy day off
Stage 10: Uran wins as Wiggins and Hesjedal lose time
Stage nine: Belkov takes solo win as Wiggins put under pressure
Stage eight: Dowsett wins as Nibali takes race lead
Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins
Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro
Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win
Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win
Stage three: Paolini takes charge
Stage two: Sky wins team time trial
Stage one: Cavendish wins opener
Giro d'Italia 2013: Photo galleries
Photos by Graham Watson
Stage 20 gallery
Stage 19 cancelled
Stage 18 gallery
Stage 17 gallery
Stage 16 gallery
Stage 15 gallery
Stage 14 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage one gallery
Team presentation gallery