Vincenzo Nibali underwent a series of tests before start stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia to Pinerolo, with his Astana team confirming he would be pulled out of the race if the results proved he is suffering from some kind of virus or infection.
Nibali signed autographs and patiently posed for selfies after signing on in Muggio near Monza. He said he is keen to finish the Giro d'Italia but the decision will be out of his hands if the tests –carried out in a specialist laboratory in Turin that works closely with the Astana team, show something is wrong.
"I've got to do them, so we can perhaps understand something," Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. "But I don't want to give up. My form is what it is. We'll see what happens in the final big mountain stages even if I'm not at my best."
Paolo Slongo –Nibali's long-time coach told Cyclingnews that the Sicilian's power data shows he is under performing by around 20 watts at his threshold. Slongo believes that loss of power could be caused by a virus or infection, rather than a lack of form. He is ready to pull Nibali from the Giro d'Italia if the results show something serious.
"I think there's something wrong and the tests are needed for this reasons," Slongo told Gazzetta dello Sport. "If they prove that Vincenzo has some health problems, we won't continue to scrape the barrel. If Vincenzo is healthy, he'll go on until Turin but vice versa, it's better if he stops."
Nibali has been at the centre of attention since he cracked and lost close to two minutes on the stage to Andalo. He is fourth overall but is 4:43 down on Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo). There have been doubts about his form for much of the Giro d'Italia.
"If it emerges that Vincenzo's problem is simply down to his training, then we've got to sit around a table and talk," directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli was reported as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.
"At this moment, which is arguably the most difficult of his brilliant career, it'd be an error to be indulgent with him. Vincenzo needs respect and tranquillity but also needs to look into the eyes of people he can trust with sincerity. We have to exam what happened and any errors that were made serenely and without looking for excuses."