Italian contender Vincenzo Nibali has promised to go on the attack whenever possible in a bid to maintain his Tour de France podium chances this year. With two long time trials on stages nine (41.5 km) and 19 (53.5 km), Australia's reigning champion Cadel Evans (BMC) and Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will start as the big yellow jersey favorites on Saturday. But Nibali, nicknamed the "Shark" for his aggressive racing style, is hoping to join other outsiders in making his mark in the mountain stages, some of which feature the steepest climbs in the race's history.
"In the time trials, we're going to try and lose as little time as possible," Nibali said here Thursday. "In the mountains is where we can make a difference and everybody nows how I ride, I'm an aggressive rider."
The 2010 Tour of Spain champion, Nibali is the Liquigas team leader this year and will be counting on the support and experience of former Tour de France runner-up Ivan Basso. He comes into the three-week race after a promising spring, during which he won the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race and finished second in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic. But the 25-year-old Sicilian, who finished an impressive seventh overall on his Tour debut in 2010, believes the race's prestige will help him produce his best.
"The Tour is a different race and what you've done in the first half of the season does not necessarily count," added Nibali. "I've always done well in the big Tours I've entered and while I'm not going to say I can win the Tour the podium is obviously an objective."
Without one of the long time trials, Wiggins and Evans would be far more worried about rivals like Nibali, Luxembourg's Frank Schleck, Jurgen Vandenbroucke of Belgium and former runner-up Denis Menchov. But Nibali, a strong downhill racer, knows he will simply have to take his chances as they come, starting with the climb to the Grand Colombier on stage 10, which finishes after a long downhill section.
"Le Grand Colombier is an interesting stage but there are many more in which we can catch the favorites off their guard and not necessarily in the descents," added the Italian. "I don't do specific training for the descents, it comes as second nature to me. If the race circumstances permit, I will try to attack for sure."