Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is hoping the 10th Tour de San Luis in Argentina will be a lucky talisman as he starts his 2016 season there next January with hopes of climbing back onto the Giro d'Italia podium's top rung.
Nibali won the race in 2010, the same year he took his first Grand Tour win at the Vuelta a Espana. He started there in 2012 and cracked the Tour de France podium for the first time that year. In 2013 he started at San Luis and then went on to win the Giro, and he started there in 2014 before winning Tour glory later that July.
He skipped the race this year in favour of a later start in the Middle East and his streak of landing on at least one Grand Tour podium each year came to and end. There were a lot of other factors at play, of course, but why leave anything to chance? Now Nibali and Astana have announced he'll target the Giro again, and his 2016 season will start off on familiar terrain.
"I'm really happy to go back to San Luis after I missed the last edition," Nibali said. "It's a race that I love so much, I attended five times, and that gave me big satisfactions, above all when I won in 2010."
Nibali skipped the Giro again in 2015 to focus on the Tour, where he failed to defend his title and finished fourth. He was ejected from the Vuelta for hanging on a team car, but he came back with a vengeance at the end of the season with wins in three Italian one-day races, including Tour of Lombardy.
The 30-year-old has a few team training camps to put in and base miles to endure before next January, but Nibali said he's looking forward to arriving in Argentina.
"I'll get to San Luis some days before the start of the race to train with calm," said the Astana leader. "The roads, the climate and the environment make San Luis the perfect place for my debut."
Nibali will be happy with the level of competition in Argentina. Movistar's Nairo Quintana, Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka, Etixx-QuickStep's Fernando Gaviria and Tom Boonen, Cannondale-Garmin's Andrew Talansky and AG2R La Mondiale's Alexis Vuillermoz are already signed on for the January 17-23 race.