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Nibali to ride the Tour of Flanders

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Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team manager Alexandr Vinokourov and star rider Vincenzo Nibali are front-and-center for the Astana Pro Team's 2014 presentation

Team manager Alexandr Vinokourov and star rider Vincenzo Nibali are front-and-center for the Astana Pro Team's 2014 presentation
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali attacks in the snow at the Giro d'Italia

Vincenzo Nibali attacks in the snow at the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali finishes his Giro d'Italia campaign in style, with a victory on Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Vincenzo Nibali finishes his Giro d'Italia campaign in style, with a victory on Tre Cime di Lavaredo
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was on a different level at the Giro d'Italia in May

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was on a different level at the Giro d'Italia in May
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Vincenzo Nibali gets help with his helmet from new teammate Michele Scarponi

Vincenzo Nibali gets help with his helmet from new teammate Michele Scarponi
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi at the presentation of the route of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi at the presentation of the route of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Vincenzo Nibali will get a taste of the cobbles in preparation this year's Tour de France by riding the Tour of Flanders, his Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli has revealed.

Stage five of the Tour de France includes a total of 15.4km of cobbles divided in nine different sections. For any overall contender it will be vital not to lose time and Martinelli thinks Nibali could even gain time on Froome even if he has never raced on the cobbles.

"Nibali doesn't know what it's like to race on the cobbles but of all the big-name overall contenders, he's the one who can gain the most," Martinelli told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He's got better bike skills than Froome and Contador and so he's got to find out what it's like to fight for a place at the front, elbow to elbow with the riders who want to pass him on the cobbles, on the rough roads full of holes. He needs to get a taste of what it's like to hit the cobbles in the peloton and then ride at 50km/h strung out in a line. And the Tour of Flanders is perfect for that."

Martinelli claimed the 2013 Giro d'Italia winner was keen to test his bike skills on the cobbles, despite the risk of racing the Tour of Flanders along side the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen on April 6.

"He's keen to give it a try because he's never ridden on the pave," Martinelli said. "He'll have Dutchman Westra with him, who grew up riding the pave."

"Vinokourov asked me if riding the Tour of Flanders is a bit risky but I told him that riding Paris-Nice or Criterium is also risky. Vincenzo will ride the Flanders for the cobbles, not to win it. He'll ride Amstel for the same reason. He's always suffered on narrow roads. He won't ride Fleche-Wallonne but will ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege."

It will include Scarponi, Vanotti, Fuglsang, Kessiakoff, Kangert, Brajkovic, Westra and one of the Kazakh riders Grivko or Gruzdev," he concluded.

Starting in San Luis, lots of time on Mount Teide

Nibali traveled to Argentina on Saturday to prepare for his season debut at the Tour de San Luis next week. He will then ride the Dubai Tour in early February and the Tour of Oman. He is due to become a father in late February but also penciled in his race programme are Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Criterium International, the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine.

His preparation for the Tour de France will also include intense periods of training at altitude on Mount Teide on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

"That's 18 days at altitude, followed by almost a month between the end of May and the start of the Tour de France, with the Dauphine (June 8-15) in the middle. If the weather's good, some of that could be at the Passo San Pellegrino in the Dolomites, because both Nibali and coach Paolo Slongo know the area well."