Aru hits back at critics after surgery and illness
Fabio Aru has hit back at those who think he will never again fight for victory in a Grand Tour, saying he believes he can take on young talents because he has raced successfully against "giants of the sport".
Aru was once seen as Vincenzo Nibali's heir and the next great Italian Grand Tour rider, but has endured a difficult two years with an undiagnosed iliac artery problem affecting his performances after joining UAE Team Emirates.
Last season he underwent an angioplasty stent operation instead of major surgery and made a rapid return to racing, finishing 14th overall at the Tour de France after only two months of training.
He went on to ride the Vuelta a España but struggled with fatigue and was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr syndrome.
Aru signed for UAE Team Emirates in 2018Getty Images
"I wish my critics would say things to my face, so that I can understand if they really know what I've been through," Aru told La Gazzetta dello Sport after recently becoming a father and starting his preparations for the 2020 season – the last of a three-year contract with UAE Team Emirates.
" I know it's been a long, difficult moment and I'm the first who is unhappy about it. But there's an explanation for it all."
"I've lost two years of my career but it wasn't my fault. I'm also convinced that I can get back to my best, fight in major races, be up there on the climbs and so silence my critics.
"Of course, if I realise I'll never be back to my best, if I struggle and can’t be competitive, Id be happy to step down a level. But I consider that to be science fiction because I know I've got the legs to be up there with the best."