Italy's Vincenzo Nibali has responded to criticism from the Italian media and his own Astana team by revealing details of the intense training he has done in recent weeks to prepare for the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France.
The 2013 Giro d'Italia winner is considered a favourite for the Tour de France along with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) but his form and ambition have come under recent scrutiny due to a lack of results so far this season.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali and his teammates received a formal letter from Astana team manager Alexander Vinokourov, criticising them for a lack of results and demanding they work harder. The Italian sports newspaper went as far as suggesting that Nibali could even leave the team after the Tour de France due to the tension between his group of Italians and the Kazakhstan management.
Cyclingnews understands this is unlikely if Nibali performs well at the Tour de France but several teams have apparently shown interest in signing the Italian and paying his reported four million Euro salary if his relationship with Astana breaks down.
Instead of replying directly to their critics, Nibali and his entourage have opted to reveal some information on Nibali's training during a camp on Monte Teide on the island of Tenerife. Nibali's coach Paolo Slongo has revealed that the Sicilian rode 1424km during a block of training between May 20 and June 2. He spent a total of 42 hours on the bike, climbing 25479m of altitude. The longest day of training lasted seven hours and 189km, with 4800m of climbing, consuming 5050 calories.
"The key aspects of the training were strength work in the gym, time trial bike, pedaling cadence and racing weight," Slongo told Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Ciro Scognamiglio, warning that Nibali might not competitive with Froome and Contador at the Critérium du Dauphiné, due to the start of the Tour de France and especially the decisive mountain stages, still several weeks away.
"It won't be a problem if there's a gap between (Vincenzo) and his rivals in the finale of stages. I love to work gradually and his 'high-end' work has not yet been polished as it should be," Slongo said.
Nibali arrived at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Saturday afternoon and has so far not publicly responded to the reported criticism from his Astana team.
"I haven't raced against Chris and Alberto in the same race this year," he pointed out.
"I'll be looking for some answers and will have to use the signals I get as best as I can. It's important to remember that in 2012 I lost nine minutes to the winner of the stage to Morzine (Nairo Quintana) but then I finished on the podium at the Tour de France. I think I worked well at altitude."