Nibali will travel to Bahrain for the team’s official presentation on February 4 and then travel to nearby Dubai for the five-day race that begins on Tuesday, February 6. He is then expected to ride the Tour of Oman.
The Italian had travelled to Argentina from his home in Switzerland to use the South American race as the start of his 2018 season. However, he failed to line up for the start of stage 1, with Bahrain-Merida quickly confirming his absence. Teammate Mark Padun was also hit by the virus and quit the Vuelta a San Juan after 100km of racing.
Nibali will target a second victory at the Tour de France in 2018 and then ride the Vuelta a España to prepare for the hilly world championships in Innsbruck, Austria. He is expected to ride either Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo in March. It is now unlikely he will test his Classics skills at the Tour of Flanders and more likely to attend an altitude camp to prepare for the Ardennes Classics.
Gaviria, Escuela released from hospital after Vuelta a San Juan crash
The Vuelta a San Juan organisers announced that Ricardo Escuela and Fernando Gaviria have been released from the hospital after "favorable results" of clinical examinations. Both riders crashed out of the race during stage 4 on Wednesday. According to Quick-Step Floors, Gaviria suffered "multiple abrasions and a deep wound on the left knee", and he was kept overnight for observation, but no fractures were discovered upon initial examinations.
Escuela, who was in sixth place in the general classification before his crash, suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness. He is in the care of his team's medical staff. Both riders will be "under observation until they leave the province", organisers said.
Nine WorldTour teams for Tour of the Alps 2018
Organisers of the Tour of the Alps have announced that nine WorldTour squads have accepted invitations to the 2018 edition of the race.
UAE Emirates will lead the field for the race, which begins on April 16 in Arco, with Italian Fabio Aru at the helm. Fellow Italian Domenico Pozzovivo will lead the Bahrain-Merida squad, while Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), and George Bennett (Lotto.NL-Jumbo) are other top names for the event.
Team Sky, which won the last three editions with Richie Porte, Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas, has not announced their provisional roster as they awaits the conclusion of the anti-doping case of Chris Froome, who had pencilled in the Tour of the Alps as his final preparation for the Giro d'Italia, according to race organisers.
Teams for 2018 Tour of the Alps
WorldTour: AG2R-La Mondiale, Astana, Bahrain-Merida, BORA-hansgrohe, Dimension Data, FDJ, Lotto.NL-Jumbo, Team Sky, UAE-Emirates.
Pro Continental: Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Bardiani-CSF, CCC-Sprandi, Euskadi-Murias, Gazprom-Rusvelo, Israel Cycling Academy, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia
Continental: Tirol Cycling Team, Team Felbermayr-Simplon
Juan Murillo positive for EPO
Venezuelan Juan Murillo Oritz has been suspended for four years and issued a €10,000 fine by the French Cycling Federation after testing positive for EPO-CERA during the Tour Cycliste International de la Guadeloupe in 2017.
The 35-year-old, racing with the Gwada Bikers 118 team, won two stages and finished second overall in the race, but tested positive in a sample taken on August 1, 2017 after he won stage 4.
The suspension has not been registered on the UCI's list of provisional suspensions or final anti-doping rule violations.
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