Strong work from Trek-Segafredo teammates Richie Porte and Kenny Elissonde on the final climb to Valdeblore La Colmiane netted Vincenzo Nibali fifth place on the final stage of Paris-Nice at the weekend, and the Italian now goes into the coronavirus-enforced break from competition at home in Lugano, Switzerland, satisfied with his fourth place overall, while admitting that Arkéa-Samsic's Nairo Quintana has been the better climber during the early season.
"I'm pleased with my Paris-Nice," Nibali said on his team's website. "I was happy with the feeling within the team; this is a new group, and everything worked very well. The whole team was unified towards one purpose, so thank you very much to everyone.
"Nairo is having a peak of exceptional condition; it was very difficult for anyone to beat him," he added of Quintana, who won the final stage – adding to his stage wins and overall victories at both the Tour de la Provence and the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var – while Bora-Hansgrohe's Max Schachmann, who won the opening stage of Paris-Nice, held on to take the overall title.
With a number of upcoming races already having been postponed or cancelled, and more expected to face the same measures in the coming days, Nibali knows that Paris-Nice will have been his last race in what could be weeks, or even months.
"We were able to finish Paris-Nice because the level of attention and precautions within the team and in the race were very high," he said, with the French stage race nevertheless having finished a day early. "The organisation kept the race heavily guarded and allowed us to race in a way that was adequate. Now all activity stops for cycling as a whole. We'll wait for what develops next, and then we'll make the necessary evaluations."
Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh added: "Right now, there are so many things that are unsure, and, at the moment, it's difficult to make decisions as to what to do and when to do it.
"We will have a meeting with all the sport directors on Monday," he said, "and hopefully, by then, we'll have more information about the upcoming calendar.
"We also understand with the situation that it's hard for the race organisers to make decisions at the moment," De Jongh said. "We all have to stay flexible, and then anything's possible. We'll see what the organisers do, and we have to respect [the measures] they put in place. Together, we'll find a solution."
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