Nibali not ruling out riding Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2019

Italian wants two-year contract extension with Bahrain-Merida

Vincenzo Nibali has not ruled out riding both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2019, though he has yet to make a final decision on his racing schedule for next season.

Nibali lined out at the Tour in 2018 but was forced to abandon after fracturing a vertebra in a crash on the slopes of Alpe d’Huez on stage 12. The two-time Giro winner last rode the corsa rosa in 2017, when he placed third overall behind Tom Dumoulin.

The routes of the 2019 Tour and Giro were presented in late October. The Giro will feature significantly more time trialling kilometres than the Tour, but Nibali has expressed no preference for one course over the other.

"I like them both a lot," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Planning 2019 won’t be easy. It’s not ruled out that I’ll end up doing both of them."

Nibali last tackled both races in the same year in 2016, when he staged a dramatic comeback to win the Giro before riding the Tour as preparation for the Rio Olympics. He looked set to claim the gold medal in the road race in Brazil only to crash out on the final descent.

Further details on Nibali’s 2019 programme are expected at the Bahrain-Merida team presentation in Hvar, Croatia on Wednesday.

The 2019 season is the third and final year of Nibali’s contract with Bahrain-Merida, and while he said that his preference was to extend his stay with the team, he has not discounted the prospect of moving on.

"I don’t know yet. I’ll meet the heads of the team at the training camp in Hvar in Croatia. I’d like to find an agreement with them for another two years," Nibali said. "There is the possibility [of changing teams]. My agent Johnny Carera is evaluating other offers. But I repeat: I hope to stay where I am."

In any case, the 34-year-old Nibali intends to continue his career until at least the end of the 2021 season, and perhaps beyond. “I don’t want to be categorical. Maybe I might continue until I’m 40 or maybe I’ll get bored before that. Or perhaps in two years, I could concentrate only on the Classics,” he said.

Nibali was speaking at La Gazzetta dello Sport’s annual awards ceremony in Milan, where he was presented with the "Legend Prize" in honour of his dramatic solo victory at Milan-San Remo in March. He was also an aggressive presence at the Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne in the weeks that followed, but he noted that he is not quite ready to shift his focus to one-day races. "No, not straightaway," he said. "I still feel I’m a stage race rider."

 

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