As Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) heads into his sixth year as a professional, the 24-year-old Italian believes 2010 could be a decisive season. In 2009 Nibali won both the Giro dell'Appennino and the Gran Premio Città di Camaiore, finished 10th overall at the Tirreno-Adriatico and sixth overall at the Tour of California. He was second in the best young rider classification at the Tour de France and seventh place overall. His 2009 season, however, was cut short after he fractured his collarbone in stage five of the Eneco Tour in late August.
"I'm still happy with my 2009 season because I made progress," Nibali told Tuttobiciweb. "In each year as a professional I have always improved."
In particular, a comparison to teammate Ivan Basso is noted by Nibali. "At the age of 24 Ivan Basso, who is a great champion, finished 11th in the Tour de France. I got a better place and I think it's significant."
Along with Nibali, Liquigas has a wealth of stage racing talent in Ivan Basso, Franco Pellizotti and Roman Kreuziger and the opportunity to have more leadership opportunities led Nibali into discussions with Team Sky. "I've always dreamed of becoming the most important part of a team, so I asked Liquigas to be released a year early. However, since my contract with Liquigas expires in December 2010 and does not provide am out clause, it was not possible to sign an agreement with Sky."
Nibali is still looking forward to his next season with Liquigas, although at this point he's not sure of his race schedule for the Grand Tours. "At least for another season I will try to give my best for Liquigas, it is an ambitious and organized team" said Nibali. "Perhaps there are too many captains, but I do not think I will encounter problems from riders in the Liquigas jersey.
"I do not know yet if I will race only the Giro, the Tour only, or both," said Nibali, who stated a decision would be made in December or January.
One day races are also important for Nibali, with several spring Classics and the world championships most prominently on his mind. "I'm especially interested in the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liege. Also, as reigning World Champion and having the next championship in his homeland, [Cadel Evans] has to convince the organizers to make the route more selective."
The world time trial championship, however, also intrigues Nibali as well as the traditional finale in his native Italy. "It's a prestigious title and the time trial fascinates me. Despite being only 50 kilometers it requires much specific training. I'll talk with the staff at Liquigas. And I hope to get to the end of the season still motivated and in shape to play my chances in the Giro di Lombardia. It's a race for me."
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