Vincenzo Nibali was one of the few riders invited to the presentation of the 2017 Giro d'Italia route and despite being defending champion next May, he refused to confirm that he will be at the start in Sardinia.
Nibali was invited on stage along with expected main rival Fabio Aru and commented on several stages, but for some reason he preferred not to confirm that he would ride. After the long presentation, Nibali jump in a car with teammate and friend Valerio Agnoli for the long drive across northern Italy to Croatia for the first Bahrain-Merida gathering.
"It's a hard but very interesting Giro d'Italia. We need some time to study the stages and the route in detail, then we have to think about if we ride it. We've got time in the winter and then we'll decide," Nibali said mysteriously.
"This is a special and important edition of the Giro d'Italia. I like it but it won't be easy to race. We've got time to decide about the Giro, the other races and my final race calendar.
With two stages in Sicily, including the first mountain finish on Mount Etna and then a stage to his hometown of Messina, Nibali is almost certain to target the Giro d'Italia. However, he could be worried about his possible rivals. Chris Froome tweeted that he liked the route when details were revealed on Monday The Team Sky leader confirmed he will target the Tour de France but could perhaps ride the Giro d'Italia in an attempt to win a rare Giro-Tour double.
Nibali called on Froome to ride the Giro, listing him amongst possible rivals, perhaps in an attempt to call his bluff. Froome rode the Giro d'Italia in 2009 and 2010 but never as an overall contender with Team Sky.
"Riders like Chaves and Kruijswijk could be big rivals, they both showed what they can do and the route suits them. I think Aru will ride too," Nibali said.
"We've also got to see if Froome rides. He's got to ride the Giro once in his life, so he can discover how much passion and affection there is for cycling in Italy. The Giro d'Italia is an important race. If he rode I think everyone would be happy."
When on stage, Nibali talked about the key stages of the Giro d'Italia. He is naturally enthusiastic about the stages on his home roads in Sicily.
"It's a very hard Giro but the two time trials give it some balance. It's similar to ones I've won but I can't say if I can win I again.
"People are already getting excited for the race in Sicily, it's going to be a great event. Etna is a very early stage but it's also an important stage. I raced up Etna in 2011 when Contador won. The climb is different but it's still not easy, the road is wide and so it's fast. The finale is tough because it's exposed, so it can also be windy. It'd be great to wear the pink jersey in Messina. But lets be cautious for now.
"I don't know the Blockhaus, but with two finishes in first week, you've got to be on form right from the start. There's a very tough final triptych of mountain stages and the stage over the Stelvio could decide the Giro d'Italia before the two other mountain stages."
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