By Jean-François Quénet in Beijing, China
Vincenzo Nibali will go from China to the United States after claiming a 15th place at the Olympic Games time trial in Beijing, China. He represented Italy for the road race and time trial after the Riccardo Riccò was excluded due to a positive doping test at the Tour de France.
Nibali occupied the Olympic spot won for Italy by current national champion Marco Pinotti when he finished 14th at the World Championship in Stuttgart last year. "It's been a fantastic experience to come here and compete," said Nibali.
"During the race I was totally focused, but at training the days before I took my camera in the pocket of my jersey, and I have a lot of pictures of the Great Wall of China. This is a fantastic venue!"
Nibali's travels will continue after a break. He raced a frustrating Tour of Italy, but finished 20th and wore the best young rider's white jersey at the Tour de France.
"I need a rest now," he said in Juyongguan, China. "I'll take a break for three weeks, and I'll resume racing at the Tour of Missouri on September 8. From there, I'll see if I can do the World Championships."
Competition will be tough for positions on the squadra azzurra for a championship race to be held on home turf in Varese, Italy. Nibali was selected as a reserve rider last year in Stuttgart, but he may soon become an indispensable member of the Italian squad when the likes of Davide Rebellin and Paolo Bettini call an end to their careers.