Category: Vincenzo Nibali

Nibali hints at Giro return for 2019

Vincenzo Nibali’s bid for a dream ending to erase his nightmare summer of 2018 simply ran out of gas Saturday.

The 34-year-old Italian star gave everything to try to defend his Giro di Lombardia title and end the season the way he started it, with an Italian monument victory. While his audaciousness paid off with victory at Milano-Sanremo, he ran into a superior Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in the steep hills of northern Italy in Lombardia.

“I raced more with my head than my legs,” Nibali said. “In the end, I didn’t have much energy left. I didn’t even have water in my bottle.”

Even seeing Nibali in the mix over the weekend says much about his character and determination.

Italy’s self-styled shark suffered a terrible back injury on Alpe d’Huez in July. A return at the Vuelta a España put him in decent shape for the world championships, but it was only Saturday that a near-fully recovered Nibali was back in fighting form.

“The worlds were too soon for me,” Nibali said. “It’s a shame but I didn’t have the form to win the rainbow jersey.”

Nibali ends his 2018 campaign with question marks about his future. He shrugged off reports that he’s on the market — “the fruit market or meat market?” he said with a laugh to Italian reporters — and insisted that he will stay with Bahrain-Merida in 2019.

“Joking aside, I’m already on an important team,” he said. “The offers are there but I have not been looking.”

At 34, Nibali is among the few active riders who have won a grand tour. He’s the only rider to win a Tour de France since the emergence of Team Sky as the Tour dominator in 2012, winning in 2014 — the year Chris Froome crashed out.

Can Nibali still be a factor at the Tour? This year, he went all in for yellow and skipped the Giro in part to arrive in July in optimal condition. Despite some early hiccups, Nibali seemed to be in pole position when disaster struck on the Alpe. He crashed hard on his back and endured a painfully long transfer off the mountain in an ambulance. He luckily avoided more serious injury, but his back was fractured and his Tour dreams shattered in an instant.

Nibali limped through the Vuelta and worlds, and showed glimpses of his full potential Saturday on the roads he knows well. Pinot dropped him on the final climb, but he countered out of a chase group to finish second. It was pure Nibali.

“After what happened to me at the Tour, I can only be happy,” he said. “Next week I will undergo other checks and they will tell me if I have fully recovered from the accident.”

Perhaps more than any rider in the bunch, Nibali has the ability to pull something magical out of his hat. He did it in the 2016 Giro and again on the Via Roma to beat the pack at Milano-Sanremo this spring.

Bahrain-Merida is bringing on Rohan Dennis and Dylan Teus, but Nibali remains the gravitational center of the team. One team insider said staffers have full confidence that Nibali can win at least one more grand tour in his career.

For next year, Nibali hinted that he’s putting the Giro back on his radar.

“The Giro seems very interesting,” Nibali said. “Other goals? Unfortunately, the world championship has faded, but I knew I had some limitations. The classic that I miss is the Liege. A very complicated race.”

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Nibali to meet French prosecutors over Tour de France crash

MILAN (AFP) — Vincenzo Nibali will return to France on November 10 to speak with prosecutors over a complaint he filed after fracturing his back in a crash that ruled him out of this year’s Tour de France, according to Italian media reports.

The 33-year-old Bahrain-Merida rider was in front of Sky’s Geraint Thomas when he came crashing down four kilometers before the summit of the race’s legendary Alpe d’Huez climb after being hindered by a fan with a camera.

Nibali recovered and finished 13 seconds behind the favorites, but was later ruled out of the race he won in 2014. Thomas went on to win the race.

The Sicilian’s lawyer Fausto Malucchi filed a complaint on behalf of Nibali, who will give evidence as the injured party.

The competent prosecutor’s office is Grenoble, in southeast France, but the meeting could take place just over France’s border with Italy, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported.

Nibali, who has also won two Giro d’Italia titles and a Vuelta a Espana, is said to be concerned he will never return to his previous level as a result of the injury.

He won the Milano-Sanremo one-day classic in March and finished second in the season-ending Giro di Lombardia last Saturday.

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Team Italy upset but optimistic after Innsbruck worlds

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali tried. Gianni Moscon too, remaining until the final kilometers. Italy, though, came away from Innsbruck, Austria, without a world championship medal in the elite men’s events.

“I know, it’s good for the future,” Moscon said of his result, a fifth-place finish behind winner Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. “But there are guys my age who’ve already won the worlds.”

Nibali has won all three grand tours owns victories in one-day races like Il Lombardia and, this spring, Milano-Sanremo with a stunning solo ride. He considered this worlds, with its 4,670 meters of climbing, one that perhaps could finally give him the prized rainbow jersey.

Peter Sagan held the jersey for the last three years, but this edition better the suited climbers in the peloton.

“Maybe if I had that 2017 form, the form that I had in the Giro dell’Emilia and in Lombardia last fall, then it would’ve been a different story,” said Nibali, who rides for trade team Bahrain-Merida.

A fan caused Nibali to crash in the Tour de France and he abandoned with a fractured vertebra. After surgery and a rushed training period, he raced the Vuelta a España with the idea of preparing for the worlds.

Instead, he leaned over to the team car near the end and told the director Davide Cassani, “Diamo tutto per Gianni.” The team would “give its all to Gianni” Moscon, suggested Nibali, as he explained to Cassani how he lacked that something he needed to contend for the rainbow jersey. With 23km remaining, Nibali faded from the group of favorites.

“I’m a little upset with myself,” Nibali said. “I had some good days at the Vuelta, but it wasn’t enough to take Italy to the top.”

The top of the Höttinger Höll climb proved to be the crucial point for the worlds circuit. The road only climbed 2.8km but its gradients touched 28 percent. After the summit, 8.8km remained to the finish.

Everyone took note of Valverde, who had been flying under the radar for the majority of the race. Canadian Michael Woods, who ended up third, blasted ahead on the climb. Frenchman Romain Bardet, the eventual runner-up, followed. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and Moscon lost ground.

“The climb was a wall, my legs were no longer turning. I wanted to get off and push my bike!” Moscon said.

“Dumoulin managed the climb well and had strength afterwards. I knew I had to do so too, but you know when you are there at the front you think differently.”

Followers thought that Moscon might have a chance to give Italy its first world title since Alessandro Ballan flew solo to his win in 2008. Moscon was disqualified from the Tour de France for throwing a punch at another rider, but he returned in the late summer to win the Coppa Agostoni. He then won the Giro della Toscana.

“Maybe if I raced the Vuelta, something would’ve gone better, but I did all I could to be here and be ready,” Moscon said. “Fifth. It’s nothing to celebrate.”

Cassani congratulated the riders on the race. He gave the team an eight out of 10 overall. The fifth-place result follows a fourth last year for Matteo Trentin and a fifth in 2016 for Giacomo Nizzolo.

“We had a good group here in Innsbruck. United,” Nibali added. “That’s good for the future.”

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Nibali: ‘The worlds will be like a blind date’

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) looks curiously ahead to his “blind date” at the world championship road race Sunday in Innsbruck given his difficult run-in to the event.

The 33-year-old and his teammate Gianni Moscon offer Italy its best chance to win the rainbow jersey for the first time since 2008. The grand tour star this year won Milano-Sanremo in a solo attack not seen in decades. A crash with a fan in the Tour de France, however, put everything in doubt.

“It’s been a rough road to get here,” Nibali told Tutto Bici.

“It was also tough after the Vuelta a España for me. But the meeting with the national team this week helped us all find harmony.

“I can’t compare any of the other races after the Vuelta to how I’m feeling today. So I think that this worlds will be like a blind date for me.”

Nibali hopes to add a rainbow jersey to his collection of leader’s jerseys from winning the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and Tour de France. The climbing course in Innsbruck, where Nibali arrives Friday, suits him more than any other in recent years.

With its 4,670 meters of climbing, the only recent course that comes close is the Florence world championship race in 2013, which had around 3,373.

However, Nibali is uncertain. He crashed with a fan in the Tour de France’s stage to Alpe d’Huez.

A spectator’s camera strap or a similar item hooked his handlebars. He fell hard but jumped back on his bike and finished only 13 seconds behind the leaders. X-rays that night showed a vertebra fracture and Nibali abandoned.

After surgery and 20 days off the bike, the Vuelta a España helped him find his form and race rhythm again. In Spain, often he attacked often to join the escapes and improved gradually.

“I’m fine, but I’m not super,” he said earlier this month.

“I have a good base after coming from the Vuelta, but I’m missing that ‘bullet’ that really makes the difference. Maybe I will find it in the coming days before the worlds, or after, at the end of the season!

“I’m not 100 percent. I believe at 90, or 80 percent.”

Italy likely could back Moscon as well, who also left the Tour de France early after the jury disqualified him for throwing a punch at another cyclist. His Sky teammate Geraint Thomas continued without him to win the race overall.

Moscon served his suspension and returned to win his first race back, the Coppa Agostoni. He followed it with a victory in the Giro della Toscana ahead of Frenchman Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).

“It’s up to the team to decide our roles,” Moscon said. “Vincenzo Nibali is a champion, without a doubt, and he deserves to be the captain just given the weight he carries.

“It’s clear, on the day of the worlds in Innsbruck, the legs will do the talking and we will know who should have his chance for victory.”

Italy faces favorites including Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Frenchmen Bardet and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), and the British twins Adam and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

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‘Patience, faith, and consistency’ key to Nibali’s worlds prep

BERMILLO DE SAYAGO, Spain (VN) — Italian Vincenzo Nibali is racing back into shape in the Vuelta a España with an eye on the world championships at the end of September.

It has been over one month since the Sicilian leader of Bahrain-Merida was crashed out of the Tour de France by a fan on Alpe d’Huez. It has been a long road to recover fully from the injury.

“Day after day it’s getting better. The post-trauma issues are improving, it’s not very fast, but there’s progress and that’s already important,” Nibali told VeloNews. “There’s enough time to get to the worlds in good condition. That’s the big objective for me and also thinking of the national team.”

What appeared to be a fan’s camera strap hooked Nibali’s handlebars on Tour stage 12. He fell to the ground hard but managed to climb back on his bike and finish only 13 seconds behind the leaders including stage winner Geraint Thomas (Sky) on Alpe d’Huez. That night, examinations revealed a vertebral fracture, and Nibali had to pull the plug on his big season goal, which was winning a second Tour after his first one in 2014.

With surgery and recovery, he had around 20 days off the bike. When he returned to riding, he started on home terrain in Sicily. He only had 15 days of serious training, mostly back on Swiss and Italian roads near his home base in Lugano before the Vuelta.

All was not lost, he already won the big Italian classic Milano-Sanremo from a solo attack. The main goal changed, though. Instead of the Tour, he shifted focus to the world championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

“The Vuelta helps me with the condition I lost. It’s normal that after having such great condition that there’s this big fall. I only came here with 15 days of training, so it’s hard to be here in top form,” Nibali added.

“Clearly, in my heart, I’d like to do something more, but I can’t do it. The incident took away a lot from me, but slowly I’m getting back up to pace. I need patience, faith, and consistency. I hope that everything goes well as it is going now.”

The stages that suit Nibali sit off on the horizon. The Vuelta a España travels north near the border of Portugal and begins to hit the high mountains in the coming days.

“If my condition helps me and I’m there in the last week, maybe I can try something, but there are riders here in great condition, who prepared just for it for months and months, or the riders who came here from the Tour. It’s hard. Already being here at this point says that the problem is going away day after day, it’s going in the right way, but like I said, you need patience.”

Davide Cassani, Team Italy’s head sport director, follows the Vuelta a España with the journalists. Every day, he sits in the press room to watch on television before going to the finish to talk with prospective team riders. He is watching Nibali closely because if he is in form, he could lead Italy on the climbing circuit in Innsbruck.

“First of all, the big thing is to have a good race with the national team, for sure, we want to have a big result,” Nibali said. “I don’t know at this point if I can be captain. I don’t have the condition to say so now. I’m still behind, but there are still 27 days where I can work a lot and I only really need one day to get into form at this point in the season.”

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Vuelta: Nibali worried back problems will upset career

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is not only concerned about losing eight minutes to his rivals in the Vuelta a España, but he’s also worried about back problems continuing and upsetting his career.

The Italian fell in July, when the Tour de France climbed Alpe d’Huez, due to a fan on the side of the road. He abandoned the race, had surgery on a vertebra, and rushed back to race the Vuelta, which began Saturday. On the first two climbs, he lost chunks of time. But that’s not his main problem.

“The problem’s something else here,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I’m not upset or disappointed, I’m worried. My back still give me problems and I can’t do much more as long as the situation is like this. I’m also worried for the future. The question is, will it return to the way it was before the incident? I don’t have answers that can satisfy me.”

With around 4 kilometers remaining in the Tour’s 12th stage to the Alpe d’Huez ski resort, a camera strap or something similar from a fan hooked around Nibali’s handlebars and sent him down to the ground hard. The pain and fracture would not allow him to continue the race.

The Bahrain-Merida team is still seeking damages from Tour organizer ASO for not protecting its riders enough. Nibali lost a year of preparation and investment. Other incidents included four-time race winner Chris Froome (Sky) getting punched.

Nibali had about 20 days off the bike and only 20 to train for the Vuelta a España. He had dreams of winning it again like he did in 2010. That victory was followed with wins in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Ultimately, he wanted to find his form and race rhythm ahead of the world championships in Innsbruck on September 30, two weeks after the Vuelta ends. This year, the worlds circuit suits climbers and Nibali wants a rainbow jersey.

Everything could be lost if the pain in his back does not subside.

“What can I say? What can I do here?” Nibali continued.

“I’m suffering like a dog, I’m pushing hard, though. If I was someone else, with a different character, I would’ve already gone home, given up everything. Instead, I’m here, resisting. I’ll go ahead.

“The problem is my back. When I push for long periods it hurts. As if I have tendonitis in my back.”

American Ben King (Dimension Data) won stage 4 to Alfacar from an early escape group. The favorites battled each other around three minutes behind King. Nibali could not take part, having lost ground earlier on the 12.4-kilometer climb.

Stage 2 on Sunday also saw him lose 4:04. He was 64th overall at 12:33 behind race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) entering Wednesday’s stage 5.

The race continues from Granada Wednesday with some easier stages. The most serious climbs come at the end of week two and in the third week.

“Positive notes? I am recovering well, my legs are not heavy,” he continued. “But I need to solve my back problem.”

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Nibali admits his Vuelta tank is on empty

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) feels “empty” and unable to stay with the top riders at the Vuelta a España due to a Tour de France crash and little preparation beforehand.

Nibali crashed in the Tour due to a fan, fractured a vertebra, but by “a miracle” he lined up for the start of the Vuelta on Saturday in Málaga. Twenty-four hours later, the lack of racing and preparation showed. Nibali fell behind the GC stars on the Caminito del Rey climb and lost 4:04.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the stage and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) took the race lead. Nibali, who won the race overall in 2010 and is wearing race No. 1 for this edition, sits 82nd overall.

“No, I’m not sick. I don’t I feel finished. Simply, I’m empty,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I realized it about 20 kilometers from the finish that it would be like that. But really, this is what I expected.”

The Sicilian began his career as a helper for Ivan Basso. When he won the 2010 Vuelta, he showed he was ready to lead himself. He went on to win the Giro d’Italia twice and the 2014 Tour de France.

He is 33 now, but is as lethal as ever. This year, he flew free and surprised everyone by winning Milano-Sanremo solo. He launched a similar attack in the Tour of Flanders, his first time at the race, and although he did not win, he paved the way for Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) to do so.

The idea was to aim for the Tour de France again. He skipped the Giro and prepared for the July race. Just as the race became serious, on the Alpe d’Huez climb, a fan’s camera strap or similar item hooked Nibali’s handlebars and flipped him and his bike to the ground hard. Nibali, unable to continue after the stage, went home. The season, everything, was in doubt.

“For us to be at the Vuelta with Vincenzo is already a win,” Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland said. “Forty days ago it seemed impossible, that we’d need a miracle.”

The day was worse for Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who is sick and lost 13 minutes. Nibali only lost a third of that, but in modern cycling such time almost always ends your race. Anything can happen, however, as we saw with Chris Froome’s come-from-behind win in the Giro in May.

Nibali remains with his feet on the ground. He said, “You know that I didn’t make any lies about my preparation before the Vuelta started.”

Given “The Shark” and his abilities, something could be possible. He will need to survive the first week and above all, the stage 4 finish. The Alfacar finish is short, but seriously steep. It climbs 12.4km to reach Sierra de la Alfaguara. The middle section is the toughest, at 11 percent.

“I can’t win, let’s not beat around the bush,” Nibali said before the Vuelta began. “I have a kilo extra on me and I’m pushing fewer watts. It’s been 20 days of training that I’ve had for this race. I didn’t prepare for the Vuelta, I couldn’t.

“It’s like going to school without having studied for the test. It can go well if they ask you only those two things that you know.”

Nibali said he will lose weight naturally in the coming days and he should produce more watts. It may not happen soon enough, given the fact that riders like Valverde and Kwiatkowski are already sharp.

The hard work in Spain, though, will serve Nibali for the road race at the UCI worlds on September 30, two weeks after the Vuelta ends, in Innsbruck.

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Nibali will wear No. 1 bib in Vuelta

With Chris Froome (Sky) not defending his the Vuelta a España title, the honor of the No. 1 start bib goes to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

Race organizers said the 2010 Vuelta winner warrants the start number despite seeing three other overall Vuelta winners on the start list.

“He deserves the No. 1 bib,” said Vuelta director Javier Guillén. “He’s an elegant racer, combative and charismatic. Few active riders have such a brilliant palmares as Nibali does.”

Nibali’s presence at the Vuelta is a boon for the race. With defending champion Froome and Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas both racing at the Tour of Britain, the Vuelta welcomes Nibali’s star power.

Nibali crashed out of the 2018 Tour when a fan knocked him off his bike near the top of Alpe d’Huez. A heavy back injury meant Nibali was touch-and-go for the Vuelta, but he hopes to use the race to hone his form ahead of the UCI world championships in Austria at the end of September.

“It’s difficult to think of the overall as I am still in my recovery phase and I have just a few days of training in my legs,” Nibali said. “A successful Vuelta for me would mean to be a protagonist in some key stages.”

Nibali won the Vuelta in 2010 in what was his first of four grand tour titles. As one of the few riders who have won all three grand tours, Nibali also counts the 2014 Tour and the 2013 and 2016 editions of the Giro on his palmares.

Other Vuelta winners expected to start Saturday in Málaga include Movistar’s Nairo Quintana (2016) and Alejandro Valverde (2009) and UAE-Emirates’ Fabio Aru (2015).

Nibali was second last year to Froome and second to Chris Horner in 2013.

“The 2010 Vuelta victory was the turning point of my career,” Nibali said. “I’ve always enjoyed racing in Spain. There is less pressure than the Giro and Tour, and the pace of the day reminds me a bit of southern Italy.”

With an eye on the rainbow jersey in September, Nibali won’t be on siesta mode even if he admits he won’t be fighting for the overall.

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Nibali: Fans often turn races into a ‘circus’

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), after crashing and abandoning the Tour de France due to an incident with a fan, says “cycling has become a circus.”

The Sicilian winner of all three grand tours became entangled what appeared to be a fan’s camera strap and fell on the closing climb up Alpe d’Huez in stage 12. Moments before that, he said he saw another fan punch four-time Tour winner Chris Froome (Sky).

Nibali suffered a fractured vertebra, but he is now preparing for the Vuelta a España that starts August 25.

“In some instances, cycling has become a circus,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Fans can be there, but this is not good. The alcohol consumption is too high, and people will do anything just to be on TV.

“With fans in the middle of the road, often with flags, we are pedaling blindly without understanding where we are going and praying to the gods above that the road opens ahead of us.”

Nibali had aimed for the overall in the Tour de France, which was just beginning its crucial mountain stages when he crashed out. The investment was so much and the circumstances surrounding the crash so ridiculous that his Bahrain-Merida team want compensation from race organizer ASO.

General manager Brent Copeland said during the Tour, “If ASO doesn’t want to come to terms with some kind of insurance, then we will have to take some legal action.”

“Seventy percent of the team’s visibility comes from the Tour, so for this reason, the team and I paid heavily,” Nibali continued. “Not counting the injury, how much economically has this set us back?

“And Froome never complains, but is it right that he is hit while he’s working? He took one right before I fell. Too often we are racing in insane situations.”

Nibali fell with around four kilometers remaining in the stage. He jumped back on his bike and finished the famous climb 13 seconds behind the race leaders. That night, however, he was forced to abandon.

“What can I do? It upsets me because I had yet to show myself in the Tour. There were still the mountains to come,” Nibali said.

Nibali is aiming for the Vuelta a España, which he won in 2010, and to build for the world championships September 30.

Last week, he rode hard for the first time since leaving the Tour.

“I don’t even know what condition I’ll be in when the Vuelta starts,” he said. “The most logical thing, given my condition and thinking of the worlds, is to read the race without thinking about the [general] classification.”

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Nibali undergoes back surgery following Tour crash

PARIS (AFP) — Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, who was forced out of the Tour de France after a crash during stage 12 on Alpe d’Huez, underwent surgery on his injured back in Milan, his Bahrain-Merida team said Tuesday.

The 2014 Tour champion will be released from the hospital on Wednesday and will be able to return to training in a few days, starting on a stationary bike before heading back out on the road.

Nibali fractured a vertebra on July 19 after his bike got tangled up with a bag or a camera strap, sending him crashing to the ground as he rode through a plume of smoke on the crowded climb.

He finished the stage seventh and was fourth overall, 2:37 behind eventual winner Geraint Thomas, but he was ruled out of the rest of the race.

The 33-year-old is one of just seven riders to have won all three grand tours. He also won this year’s Milano-Sanremo, one of cycling’s five monuments.

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