Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali, like Joaquim Rodriguez, has stretched his legs with participation in San Luis and Dubai and now appears set to step up his efforts in Oman. Targeting Tour de France victory in 2014, Nibali will be keen to lay down a marker, much as Chris Froome did in 2013. With Froome among the competition, expect Nibali to eye an early victory over his biggest rival for the maillot jaune this summer.
Last year, Nibali lost too much time on Green Mountain, and then again on the undulating circuit prior to the Ministry of Housing finish, to compete overall but still finished seventh. This time, ‘The Shark’ has more racing in his legs and is more than capable of making amends, not least on Green Mountain. His stunning performances on some of the fiercest climbs of last year’s Giro and Vuelta showed him at his very best on the testing ascents, and if he is able to replicate them on stage five he will certainly feature at the sharp end of the GC.