Giro d’Italia triumph won’t change Nibali's Tour de France plans
Vincenzo Nibali’s maiden victory in the Giro d’Italia has confirmed his status as one of the world’s top stage racers, but the Italian said it won’t tempt him to line up at July’s Tour de France.
The Astana team leader, 28, secured his first ever victory in the three-week epic when he finished Sunday’s final stage into Brescia with a 4min 43sec lead on Colombian Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky.
Nibali, considered Italy’s best hope in the three-week Grand Tours as well as a symbol of the sport’s efforts to leave doping affairs of the past behind, pushed Bradley Wiggins all the way before finishing third overall as the Londoner triumphed.
Seeing Nibali line up alongside former winners like Wiggins (last year) and Spaniard Alberto Contador (2007, 2009), as well as Britain’s Chris Froome, the runner-up last year, would add extra spice to what is shaping up to be a thrilling ‘Grande Boucle’ in July.
But the lure of the race’s 100th edition, and Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov airing the idea on Saturday, won’t change Nibali’s mind to miss the June 29-July 21 race.
“We haven’t spoken about it. The Tour isn’t in my plans or even in my thoughts,” Nibali said after his victory atop the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites virtually secured the pink jersey on Saturday’s 20th stage.
“I started the season very early and have a lot of racing in my legs already. Right now, it’s hard for me to even imagine lining up for the Tour.
“I could probably do well for the first couple of weeks, but I doubt my current form would stretch that far, and even if it did I would risk collapsing in the third week.”
The Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double was last achieved by late Italian champion Marco Pantani, in 1998. Nibali, who now has a second Grand Tour title following his Tour of Spain triumph in 2010, said it would require different preparation altogether.
“I prefer to have one objective at a time. The Tour would require much different preparation from the Tour. For example, the climbs at the Tour are much longer,” said the Italian.
Nibali succeeded Canadian Ryder Hesjedal as champion of the Italian epic. The Garmin team leader, along with Wiggins, quit the race before the final week due to illness.
“I will need a little bit of time for all of this to soak in,” added Nibali, who finished in third then second overall on the Giro in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
“I’ve had good overall results in the Giro and the Vuelta [Tour of Spain] which confirm that I’m a good Grand Tour rider. But winning the Giro, of course, is special.”