Vincenzo Nibali admits finishing on the podium behind Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012 spurred him on to greater things in the 2014 Tour de France.
Nibali won the Tour de France by seven minutes and 52 seconds and never looked like he was going to be beaten throughout the whole race.
Past podium finish
The Italian finished third in 2012 behind Wiggins and Chris Froome, and he believes that podium finish inspired him to emulate what both the British riders have now done over the past three years.
According to Sky Sports, Nibali said: “It was really tough to be there on the podium.
“I was very emotional. I was here two years ago looking at Wiggins on the podium, and I was thinking that I hope that I can be there one day.
“It was an amazing atmosphere and it just feels great. It was a huge honour.”
Three Grand Tour winners
Nibali will now go down in the history books after his Tour de France success meant that he has won all three Grand Tours. The Astana rider is only the sixth rider ever to do this and his name will now be added to the list that already includes Alberto Contador, Eddy Merckx, Felice Gimondi, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault.
The 29 year old won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 and the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and I could definitely see him adding other major wins to his collection in the coming seasons.
The Astana rider admitted he took each race at a time and didn't really think about the record books.
“I have never really thought about records or history," he added.
“I had my Vuelta victory in 2010, the Giro last year and the Tour this year, so I have conquered each of these races step by step.
“Winning the Giro d’Italia was a massive emotion for me because, when I was young I was watching it every day. I used to watch the Tour with [Marco] Pantani and [Miguel] Indurain. I grew up watching them and celebrating them. I made my way here to the Tour and to be the winner is incredible.”
For Tour fans it was a shame to see Froome and Contador exit the race so early due to injury because it meant the yellow jersey competition was more clear cut in Nibali's favour and the Italian believes it would have been more of a challenge to win the race if they were in it.
“I would have found it harder and it would have been a lot tougher because they are great competitors and they have both shown they are great climbers and great leaders, but I prepared really well for this race and my team were well prepared.
“I showed it in the mountain stages – in every mountain finish, I was there. Froome and Contador are great champions and I hope in future that I will be able to race against them.
“The most important stage was the cobblestone stage. I was a bit nervous about it. I knew I could do something great on it.”
I still do not believe Nibali would have won the Tour de France if Contador and Froome were in the race because even though he was good in the mountains, the Spaniard and the Brit would have been too strong for him.
Froome is also very good at time trials and I think he would have finished with a quicker time than Nibali.
However Nibali was exceptional over the cobbled stones and this was something that could have made a lot of difference. He extended his lead on Contador and I don't think Froome would have done very well on the wet cobbles either.
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