Vincenzo Nibali will not seek a third successive Tirreno-Adriatico title in 2014, preferring instead to ride Paris-Nice as preparation for Milan-San Remo. Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli explained that the new parcours of La Classicissima means that it will be Nibali's primary early-season goal.
"The French race gives you an extra day of rest ahead of Milan-San Remo, which, with the addition of the Pompeiana, has become a major objective," Martinelli told Gazzetta dello Sport, adding that Nice's proximity to the finale of Milan-San Remo was another benefit. "If you stay in the same area, you can prepare better."
"There’s another factor, which isn’t secondary," Martinelli added. "Nibali is a champion in Italy, but now he needs to have a more international dimension."
To that end, Nibali’s provisional race programme has just one appearance pencilled in for Italy in the opening half of a season that should see him prepare for the Tour de France by riding the Tour de San Luis, Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Critérium International, the Ardennes classics, Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné.
Martinelli refused to rule out the prospect of Nibali adding the Tour of Flanders to his programme as preparation for the Tour de France’s stage over the cobbles to Arenberg next July. "The idea of bringing him to the Tour of Flanders is growing stronger," he said. "He’ll do Amstel and Liège, although I don’t know if we’ll see the same extraordinary Nibali of last season."
Astana's Giro d'Italia line-up will be led by new signing Michele Scarponi and the young Sardinian Fabio Aru, who impressed with his support of Nibali in the third week of this year’s race, particularly on the road to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
"Scarponi was hired first of all to help Nibali at the Tour, but he’s also an investment for the Giro, where he’ll fight for pink and teach the craft to Aru. We can’t snub an important race like the Giro," Martinelli said.
In spite of his 7th place finish at the 2013 Tour, however, Jakob Fuglsang will have precious little personal freedom next season and will return to the La Grande Boucle as one of Nibali’s chief lieutenants. "It will be a year of sacrifices for him. He'll have to help Nibali 100%," Martinelli said.
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