Nibali returns at Dauphiné after Teide training camp

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) returns to racing at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday fresh from one of his key training camps in the build-up to the defence of his Tour de France title in July.

While Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was beating his teammate Fabio Aru into second place at the Giro d'Italia, Nibali was atop Mount Teide in Tenerife in the second half of May, where he spent 14 days training at altitude in the company of nine other Astana riders.

As in 2014, Nibali arrives in June without a victory to his name. He followed up on his Ardennes Classics campaign with a 10th place finish at the Tour de Romandie and a short break, before beginning his Tour build-up in earnest in Tenerife.

"He had 14 fruitful training sessions," Nibali's trainer Paolo Slongo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "His build-up to the Tour is very similar to last year, and the first thing that strikes you is that Vincenzo has lost weight. Compared to Romandie, he's lost a kilo. Now he's at 64.5kg and before the start in Utrecht he could lose another kilo or half a kilo."

Slongo explained that after two days of acclimatisation, Nibali followed a cycle that saw him ride three blocks of three tough training days, with a recovery day between each one. "We worked on both quantity and quality, with a lot of medium intensity work and very little above threshold," Slongo said. "He did 58 or 59 hours in total, and clocked up more than 28,000 metres in vertical climbing, coming close to 4,800 metres in a single session."

Nibali was still short of his best when he lined up at the Dauphiné last year, ultimately placing 7th overall, but he landed the Italian national championships road race two days later, and went on to lead the Tour from stage 2 all the way to the finish in Paris.

After this year’s Dauphiné, Nibali will attend another altitude training camp at the Passo San Pellegrino, from June 18-26, before travelling to defend his national title in Piedmont. "We'll have time to add some more quality work and some above-threshold work behind a motorbike at the Passo San Pellegrino," Slongo said.

Gazzetta also reports that while Astana's Tour de France team will almost certainly include Jakob Fuglsang, Lars Boom, Alessandro Vanotti, Andriy Grivko and Rein Taaramäe, there is unlikely to be a place for Fabio Aru.

Speaking on the final weekend of the Giro d'Italia, general manager Alexandre Vinokourov floated the idea of drafting Aru into the Tour team but the 24-year-old is instead likely to line up at the Vuelta a España in August alongside Mikel Landa.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1