After a long and frustrating recovery period, Giacomo Nizzolo has finally overcome the knee tendonitis that plagued him since December. Giacomo has ridden the past 20 days without symptoms from the nagging injury and is ready to start his season, lining up at the Tour of Croatia Tuesday.
"I am happy to start racing again," said Giacomo when we reached him by phone at his home. "I have missed the adrenaline! And I am really looking forward to being with the team again, too. Since we talked the last time, things didn’t go well every day, and there were still some setbacks, but I can say that the last 20 days everything has gone smoothly and I could train in a regular way.
"I’ve done four, five, six hours on the bike without any problems, so that gives me a bit of confidence, even though I have still my physical condition to build up further. Let’s say that, since I’ve been training for 20 days now, my body feels like it’s December. The only problem is that for the other guys it is April and they have the Classics in the legs, so it will be interesting to see how that will go," he laughed.
The last time Giacomo suited up with the team was at the January training camp in Mallorca. (photo ©Kristof Ramon)
At this time last year, Giacomo had already accumulated numerous top three finishes in the Tour Down Under and the Dubai Tour, where he also finished second overall. At the Tour of Croatia he secured his first victories of 2016, winning stages one and three, but this year his expectations have been lowered significantly.
"Yeah, last year I won two stages in Croatia, but we have to be realistic," pointed out Nizzolo. "I’ve been without racing for almost six months, so I will have to get used to the speed and to riding in the bunch again. But, for sure, as always I will keep fighting till the end and try to win a stage again. I hope to improve day by day during the race, but I am well aware that my first challenge will be to stay with the peloton until the end and then, who knows… But again, we have to stay realistic and take the race day by day and see how it goes."
Fabian Cancellara and Giacomo Nizzolo came out to support the team at Milano-Sanremo. (Photo ©Kristof Ramon)
His biggest goal is less than a month away, but the Italian National Champion is not looking beyond next week. Even if he does make it to the start line on the Island of Sardinia for the historic 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia, he will be far from the same form that won him the maglia rosso the last two years.
"The Giro is close but at the same time still far away," continued Giacomo. "First let’s get through the Tour of Croatia, and then we will see. I think, and I hope I will be there, but it goes without saying that if I am there, it won’t be with the same legs, the same feeling, the same condition as last year."
So, although it's still up in the air whether the Italian tricolor jersey will be lining up at its country's biggest cycling event for its 100-year anniversary, at this point, Giacomo is just happy to be racing again.