Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has said that he would like to lead Italy at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The hilly course for the Olympic road race - which will take place on August 6, the opening day of competition - was announced earlier this month.
“I’ve had a look and it seems to be a tough course, difficult and suitable to my characteristics,” Nibali said according to Gazzetta dello Sport. “We will see, there is still a year and a half but I’d like to be a leader.”
Rio will be Nibali’s second Olympic Games, after making his debut at the last edition in London. Italy last took the Olympic title with Paolo Bettini in 2004. They are one of the most successful nations on the road, taking six gold medals in the men’s road race. Italy is looking to bring the Olympic Games back to Rome for the first time since it hosted the event in 1960. Italy took home a silver medal on that occasion with Livio Trapè but Nibali admits he is unlikely to be in contention come 2024.
“It would be an exceptional showcase for our country,” said Nibali. “From sporting point of view I support because Rome can get it done, even if I will be 39 and I do not think I'll be at the start as an athlete. In any case, I think it would be a unique opportunity for the sport Italian also to improve the infrastructure of our country, which is lacking, and also a great way to boost the economy.”
A little nearer in the future is the 2015 Tour de France where Nibali goes as the defending champion. Nibali dominated this year’s competition and finished the race more than seven minutes ahead of second placed Jean-Christophe Péraud. However, the build-up to his attack on the Tour was not smooth sailing and Nibali says that defending it against the likes of Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome will not be straight forward.
“The 2014 was not all roses. I had several difficulties in first part of the season, then luckily I turned it around, the form arrived and there was this beautiful gem of the Tour de France,” said Nibali. “[To] repeat the success in the Tour de France will be very difficult, in any case nothing is impossible and I'm already working well for the next season. We hope to start well and get to the top in July. The Tour is certainly the main goal but I won’t omit other important races.”