Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannonale) is set to return to the Tour de France for the first time in three years in 2012, but the Sicilian has yet to rule out the possibility of flanking Ivan Basso at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Nibali’s early-season programme will be the same as in 2010, when he began the campaign focused on the Tour de France, but ended up riding the Giro in support of Basso when Franco Pellizotti fell foul of the biological passport on the eve of the race.
“I’ll start in January in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis, then Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country and the Ardennes Classics, and then the Tour,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But there could also be the Giro. It’s more of a wish than a plan, more of a desire than an objective.”
After finishing his 2011 season without a win, Nibali acknowledged that the importance of getting off the mark early next year.
“I’ll start racing again to win, looking for a win, because victory adds sense to so many of our efforts and responsibilities,” he said. “2011 was a year without wins, and so I’ll remember it with disappointment. It can happen and it did happen, but I rode well, at the front, always fighting with the best, so I have nothing to admonish myself for.”
Nibali acknowledged that he has enjoyed a far quieter winter this year than he did twelve months ago, when he spent much of the off-season being feted for his triumph at the 2010 Vuelta a España.
“I’ve already started preparing myself again,” he said. “Since this time it’s been calmer, I’ve had more time to dedicate to myself, so I did a lot of gym work.”
In spite of beginning his season in the southern hemisphere in January, Nibali is intent on riding deep into the autumn in 2012. The world championships take place on a testing course in Valkenburg, and Nibali should be among the riders charged with improving on the azzurri’s disappointing showing in Copenhagen this year.
“The Worlds are also an idea, but I’ll need to see what Bettini’s idea is. It’s early to think about it, but these thoughts will stay with me as we go on.”