The Astana team has confirmed that Vincenzo Nibali will not race Criterium International at the weekend, with the rider preferring to rest up and then head to Mount Teide on the island of Tenerife, to work on his form for the Ardennes Classics.
The Italian has often made spectacular attacks in early-season races but has never been a true contender. He finished 12th overall at the Tour of Oman and was 21st at the more recent Paris-Nice. He made an audacious solo attack on the Cipressa climb at Milan-San Remo but was caught and failed to finish in the front group, crossing the line in 44th place, 3:15 behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
“We saw Vincenzo work hard in Paris-Nice and Milano-San Remo. It’s good news to watch the Shark (Nibali's nickname) attack but now we need to draw back a little, go back to altitude in Tenerife to recover from the efforts and train specifically to get ready for the Ardennes, especially Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This race is a fundamental one-day goal in Astana’s 2014 season and we want Vincenzo to be at real top fitness for the day,” directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli explained in a statement from the Kazakhstani team.
Nibali confirmed to Gazzetta dello Sport after Milan-San Remo that he will train at altitude on Mount Teide from April 1-16. He will then ride Amstel Gold Race (April 20), Fleche-Wallonne (April 23) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 27).
Martinelli confirmed that Michele Scarponi and Jani Brajkovic will lead the Astana team at Criterium International.