A week after finishing second in the Giro d’Italia, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) will be back in action at the Gran Premio Città di Lugano one-day race near his home in Switzerland on Sunday, before taking a break from racing and preparing for the Tour de France.
Nibali won a criterium in San Daniele in the northeast of Italy on Thursday night and also rode the Cycling All Stars criterium in Belluno on Monday evening. He is likely to head to the Dolomites for a final altitude camp later in June before travelling to Brussels for the start of the Tour de France on July 3.
Nibali has already hinted he will pursue stage victories rather than the overall classification at the Tour de France after focusing much of his season on the Giro d’Italia, but is keen to leave his mark on the sport’s biggest race. The Tour de France is expected to be Nibali’s final Grand Tour with Bahrain-Merida before he moves to Trek-Segafredo for 2020.
The Gran Premio Città di Lugano was traditionally held in February but switched to an early summer date in 2017. This year’s race has attracted many of the riders who reside in the Swiss city, with Fabio Aru due to return to racing with UAE Team Emirates after undergoing iliac artery surgery. Also on the start list are Esteban Chaves sand Brent Bookwalter (Mitchelton-Scott), Davide Cimolai (Israel Cycling Academy), Giro d’Italia stage winner Imerio Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli).
The Gran Premio Città di Lugano covers eight laps of a 22.4km hilly course, including the Via Monte Croce climb. Previous winners include Sonny Colbrelli, Niccolo Bonifazio and Ivan Basso. Hermann Pernsteiner won the race in 2018 and so Bahrain-Merida are keen to secure a second consecutive victory. Matej Mohoric is also in the Bahrain-Merida line-up as he prepares for the Tour de France.
"The route is very selective and many riders will not finish the race. We have a balanced line-up with Vincenzo, captain, and Matej, second team leader," directeur sportif Alberto Volpi explained.
Mohoric has not raced since the start of May and the Gran Premio Città di Lugano will be a test for the young Slovenian before he rides the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.
"The last race I did was the Frankfurt GP at the beginning of May then I spent two weeks at a Teide training camp," he said. "We have worked a lot and cycled for about 50 hours. The GP Lugano will help me see where I am with my preparation before two important competitions like Tour de Suisse and in July the Tour de France."
Bahrain-Merida for the Gran Premio Città di Lugano: Vincenzo Nibali, Matej Mohoric, Antonio Nibali, Andrea Garosio, Domen Novak, Meiyin Wang.