Vincenzo Nibali has revealed that a period of training at home in Sicily after he was disqualified from the Vuelta a Espana and support from his father Salvatore helped him find the motivation and the form to win the Coppa Bernocchi race and so secure a place in the Italian team for the World Championships in Richmond.
While the World Championship course in Richmond is suited to the Classics riders and sprinters, Nibali will play what Italian national coach Davide Cassani described as a 'joker' role, that will include being a team captain, possible late attacker and a team rider.
The Italian squadra will be lead by Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida), who won a stage at the Giro d'Italia in May and recently placed fifth at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, while protected sprinters include Trek Factory Racing rider Giacomo Nizzolo and Team Sky's Elia Viviani (Team Sky), who won three stages at the Tour of Britain. Also in the 11-rider squad are Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep), Manuel Quinziato and Daniel Oss and Alessandro de Marchi (all BMC), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF), Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky). The final nine riders will be selected before next Sunday's Elite men's road race.
Nibali finished second to Davide Rebellin in Wednesday's Coppa Agostoni but was still not sure of a place in the Italian team. He was ready to stay at home and focus on preparing for Il Lombardia but winning the Coppa Bernocchi –a race traditionally won by sprinters, convinced Cassani that Nibali was motivated and on form by going in the decisive break for a second consecutive day and then winning with a powerful late attack.
Nibali headed home to Messina in Sicily for a block of training after being disqualified after stage two the Vuelta a Espana for holding onto the Astana team car as he tried to chase the peloton following a late crash. Demoralised and angry after feeling he was unfairly treated and accused, Nibali closed down his Twitter account, only returning to the social media platform the day before his return to racing in Italy. In between, he spent time on his home roads, spending time with his father Salvatore, who accompanied him when he first began racing his bike.
"I made a mistake the other day and couldn't do that again. The Coppa Bernocchi was less suited to me but it was a good attack and we all worked together to stay away and then fought it out in the finale. We went hard, rarely below 45km/h and often over 50km/h despite a head wind," Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I'm really happy to have won. I want to dedicate it to Salvatore. He helps me find the concentration in what wasn't an easy moment for me."
After winning the Coppa Bernocchi, Nibali wrote on Twitter: "Due Giorni pieni di Emozioni grazie a tutti di cuore per i messaggi!!" – "Two days full of emotions. A heartfelt thankyou for the messages!!"
Today Nibali posted a photo of him training with the Italian team. He will ride as part of the Italian national team at the Memorial Marco Pantani race on Saturday and the Gran Prix Industria e Commercio di Prato in Tuscany on Sunday.
"Being in the Italian team is special. You put your personal pride aside for a team cause: bringing home a medal," Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.
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