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Rider of the week

Vincenzo Nibali claimed back-to-back victories at the National Championships, thus becoming the 14th Italian rider to do it, and the first since Giovanni Visconti (2011). Just like in 2014, the Italian opened his account in the one-day race, but this time on a different parcours. If last year’s edition took place on the course of the now defunct Trofeo Melinda, this time the riders tackled the Milano-Torino route, a race revamped by RCS Sport in 2012. The 219-km long event included two climbs, the final one being the Superga hill – 5 kilometers, 9% average gradient – where all was to be decided.

Having his Astana team at the front setting the pace once the race entered its closing kilometers, the triple Grand Tour winner decided to give it a go from the penultimate ascent, thus forcing an important selection. Caught by Francesco Reda and Diego Ulissi, the “Shark of Messina” distanced his rivals on the descent, before the two of them joined him once again on Superga. At one point, Nibali looked to have been cooked as a result of his numerous attacks, but it wasn’t so, as he pushed clear with around two kilometers left and this time left everyone behind for good.

In the end, the 30-year-old Italian won with a comfortable cushion and reassessed himself as one of the top contenders for the Tour de France, with exactly one week before the start of the event. What’s even more important is that Vincenzo Nibali looked to be very slim and in an excellent condition, after a kind of disappointing Criterium du Dauphiné, where he came just 12th in the general classification. Having won the National Championships for the second time in his career and being close of hitting top form, it remains to be seen if the Sicilian will continue on an identical road with the one of last year and take another victory in cycling’s biggest race.

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