While the Tour de France is Vincenzo Nibali’s primary objective for 2014, he has refused to rule out the prospect of again lining up at the Giro d’Italia, which he won for the first time this season. The Sicilian will finalise his race programme in the coming weeks after his Astana team’s first training camps at Montecatini Terme and Calpe.
“The programme hasn’t been decided yet,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The Giro is certainly quite tempting. It’s a nice Giro, well-designed, and maybe you could think about being there. But in any case, the centrepiece remains the Tour. Now we’ll start to talk about it at Astana with the calendar in front of us and we’ll put together the programme.”
Nibali has not attempted the Giro-Tour double since 2008, when the then 23-year-old followed his 11th place finish at the Giro with 20th overall in his debut Tour. That was the last time that Nibali finished outside the top seven places in a three-week stage race, and he has finished on the podium in six of his last eight Grand Tours.
Such consistency places Nibali among the prime challengers to Chris Froome (Sky) at next year’s Tour de France. Nibali got the better of Froome at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2013 but he would not be drawn on how he would fare in the anticipated head-to-head next July.
“We’ll see how he is in the new season,” Nibali said. “It’s not a given that next season will be a mirror of the one that went before. Sometimes repeating is even more difficult.”
The strength in depth of Sky’s stage racing unit has added to Froome’s armoury, but Astana’s activity in the transfer market means that Nibali should not be lacking in support in the high mountains next season. Michele Scarponi, Mikel Landa and Franco Pellizotti – who remains sidelined until May, as per MPCC regulations – have all been added to an Astana roster that already includes Fabio Aru, Jakob Fuglsang and Tanel Kangert.
“The team is really very nice, we’re doing some good things. This is thanks to [general manager Alexandre] Vinokourov, who really believes in the group that we’re putting together,” Nibali said. “But you still have to put everything together so that you’re ready to fight for the Tour.”
Nibali was speaking at a charity event on the motor racing track at Ottobiano, but his thoughts turn to the 2014 season in earnest later this week when his Astana team assembles in Montecatini Terme.
Astana will then hold a training camp in Calpe from December 9, while Nibali will begin his 2014 campaign at the Tour de San Luis (January 20-26), before racing in the inaugural Dubai Tour (February 5-8), which is run by Giro organiser RCS Sport.
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