Contract talks between Nibali and Bahrain stall

'He probably met Trek at Tirreno' says Copeland

Negotiations between Vincenzo Nibali and Bahrain-Merida show no signs of re-opening with both parties still at loggerheads over the terms of a possible contract extension.

The 34-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2019, and although an offer was put on the table by the Bahrain Merida management last season it remains unsigned as Nibali waits for improved terms. Meanwhile, speculation linking the 2018 Milan-San Remo winner with Trek-Segafedo continues to grow, with Bahrain Merida believing that the star GC rider met with the Italian team during Tirreno-Adriatico.

Segafredo are reported to be keen on signing Nibali and made an approach to discuss a move several months ago. That interest has only intensified in recent weeks.

"There hasn't been any further negotiations and we're still sitting where we were about a month ago," Bahrain Merida's Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews on Monday, during a brief visit to McLaren offices just outside London.

"There's been no progress. It could be true that he's been discussing things with Trek-Segafredo. I know they probably met at Tirreno but I have no more details other than that."

Nibali joined Bahrain-Merida at the start of 2017 and although he has not won a Grand Tour since his move he has been a consistent performer for the squad. In 2017 he won Il Lombardia and finished on the podium in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. Last year he claimed Milan-San Remo and looked set for a successful Tour de France until a fan took him out on the climb of Alpe d'Huez. The injuries wrecked his summer but he came back to finish second in Lombardia.

"We offered him a one-year contract last year, which was his original request. He said he wanted to race until the Olympics in 2020, so we made him an offer for that season," said Copeland.

"They were happy with it, said it was a really good offer, but then came back and were asking for a two-year deal. That's what has stalled everything, so we're still discussing things with sponsor and partners, to see what's possible before making an official solid offer. That's taken longer than expected but that's where we're sitting at the moment."

With added investment from McLaren the team are looking to invest in the transfer market. They made a number of high-profile signings ahead of this season but with a lack of Grand Tour winners on the market for 2020 - Nairo Quintana is out of contract at the end of this season- Copeland is waiting to see how the situation with Nibali develops.

"It would be nice if he accepted a two-year deal to end his career with us but as of yet there has still been no official offer put on the table."

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