Vincenzo Nibali will be the star of the route presentation for the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday in Milan and has all but confirmed he will try to defend the maglia rosa he won this year and chase a third victory in his home Grand Tour in 2017.
Race director Mauro Vegni has included stages in Sardinian and Sicily to help convince both Nibali and his younger Italian rival Fabio Aru to ride the Giro's 100th edition. The first mountain stage is expected to finish on the slopes of Mount Etna, where Nibali developed as a climber, followed by a finish in his hometown of Messina. The route is expected to be finely balanced with only two time trials, lots of climbing and several testing descents that Nibali likes so much.
Vegni is hoping that the route of the 2017 Giro d'Italia will inspire an Italian duel between Nibali and Aru. The two will finally be rivals after Nibali's move to Bahrain-Merida, while Aru will step up to fill Nibali's shoes at Astana.
Aru is currently on vacation, but Nibali will be in Milan for the route presentation before heading to Croatia for Bahrain-Merida's first official get together.
"The idea is to ride the Giro d'Italia. I won't hide that, and attending the official route presentation is an important part of the decision," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport before returning to Italy from the Abu Dhabi Tour.
"However, first we've got to get to know each other at the new team, and so the first get together in Croatia will be very useful to start talking about race programmes. It's the start of a new adventure, and in some ways its like starting from zero with huge motivation."
Nibali’s long-time coach, Paolo Slongo, confirmed that the Sicilian will start his 2017 season and so make his racing debut in the new Bahrain-Merida colours at the Tour de San Juan in Argentina between January 24-29. The new race is expected to replace the Tour de San Luis.