Vincenzo Nibali will ride the Giro d'Italia in 2016 while Fabio Aru will make his Tour de France debut, Astana team manager Alexandr Vinokourov has said. Speaking to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Vinokourov said that the two will again be put on separate racing programmes next season when they sit down in November to plan their 2016 goals.
Nibali has already expressed his interest in returning to his home Grand Tour, the Giro d'Italia, for the first time since winning it in 2013. He has foregone the Italian race in favour of the Tour de France in the last couple of years. 25-year-old Aru has been learning his trade in three-week races between the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana. On his fifth attempt, Aru won his first Grand Tour at this year's Vuelta by beating Joaquim Rodríguez by 57 seconds.
After that success, the team want to push him further and see what he can do at the Tour de France. "Without doubt, I am certain that Nibali and Aru will have two different programmes," Vinokourov said to Gazzetta dello Sport. "Vincenzo feels a lot towards the Giro, he wants to return. Aru is 25 and he has progressed extraordinarily: in two seasons he has been third, fifth, second and first in the Grand Tours that he's ridden - there is nobody like him in the world.
"In two or three years he can win the Tour and I would like to test him immediately. They are two great leaders that have won a lot, it is right that everyone has their own objective."
Nibali and Aru did briefly ride together at the same Grand Tour this season, prior to Nibali's expulsion at the Vuelta a Espana, and they could meet at the Tour de France in 2016. However, Nibali would not go in as a leader but, instead, use it as a build-up to the Olympic Games. The reigning Olympic road race champion himself, Vinokourov appears keen to ensure that he gets the right build-up for Rio.
"We have to decide how he will prepare for this, and a possibility is that Vincenzo will also race at the Tour to prepare for the Olympics, it hasn't been ruled out," Vinokourov explained. "I would love to see Aru out at the Olympics but it will depend on how he responds to the efforts of the Tour."
During the interview, Vinokourov was asked about his thoughts on his two general classification riders. Nibali arrived at the team in 2013 already as a winner at the Vuelta a Espana, while Aru has very much been a developmental project for them since turning professional with them in 2012.
"Vincenzo is a leader, he is a great champion, but he must be more consistent," said Vinokourov. "Not only at the table but also in the race be must establish his own group. Fabio is more pigheaded than Vincenzo. He was very quick to win but last year he surprised me with his third place in the Giro, that he could have settled for that hand said: 'I will go home and concentrate on the Vuelta', and he won those two stages."
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