Vincenzo Nibali has hinted he may race on beyond 2021, admitting he has a newfound enthusiasm for cycling and for life at home after being forced to sit-out the spring due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The 35-year-old Sicilian last raced at Paris-Nice in early March and has spent the lockdown with his wife and young daughter in Lugano, Switzerland. He was able to train outdoors and also took part in a number of virtual rides and races with Trek-Segafredo, his trophy cabinet packed with Grand Tour winner trophies confirming of his palmares.
Nibali won the Tour de France in 2014, the Vuelta a España in 2010 and the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and 2016. He has also won Il Lombardia twice and Milan-San Remo. He was originally scheduled to ride the Giro, the Tokyo Olympics, the Vuelta a España and the Worlds in 2020. The Olympics have since been postponed until 2021, while Nibali will forgo the Vuelta, which now overlaps with the Giro on the revised calendar.
"A pink triple? Of course, its something I think about," Nibali admitted to the Il Giornale newspaper on Monday.
"Just as I do about the Worlds. I hope they're going to be in Switzerland, in Aigle-Martigny, it's perfect for me. I know they're thinking about moving them and that doesn’t cheer me up one bit."
"After that there's also Tokyo to think about. I still haven’t got over missing out on a chance of a gold medal in Rio. I was on my way to the finish line when I crashed out."
When suggested that the Tokyo road race in the summer of 2021 could be a great way of ending his career, Nibali made it clear he is not done yet, pushing back at plans to retire after the final year of his current contract with Trek-Segafredo.
"If I feel like I do now, with the same determination and the same enthusiasm, I'll keep going. They'll be no stopping me!" Nibali said.
My home made pizza is pretty good
In recent weeks, Nibali has being training with fellow Lugano residents Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) and Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling), enjoying some long rides in the Swiss mountains instead of racing the Giro d'Italia.
Nibali has also shown a different side to his character, clearly more relaxed away from the intensity and pressure of racing. He has taken part in an Instagram Live show hosted by former professional Lello Ferrara, even dressing up in pajamas for one episode.
"I didn’t try to be more friendly than usual, I was the same person I am with my friends," he explained.
"People who know me understand I like to have fun even if others judge me just by how they see me at races. There's a lot of stress, pressure and competition at the race and it's my job to win, so I have to focus on that and be at my best. Sat in front of a web cam I'm more relaxed; that's the real me."
Nibali also confirmed his manual skills and love for electronics during the lockdown, indicating he far more than a bike racer when at home.
"I don't like to sit still. When I'm art home and I've done my training for the day, I'll fix anything that needs fixing. Is the washing machine broken? I'll repair it. Problems with the blinds? No problem. I also repair and maintain my own bike and I've no problem fixing the bikes of my Swiss training partners. I also like electronics and cameras. I'm not bad at cooking either: My home made pizza is pretty good."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.