Vincenzo Nibali has revealed he is tempted to target the Tour de France once again after the inclusion of pave and the short mountain stage in the Pyrenees created a route similar to when he won the race in 2014. However, Nibali has not yet counted out his home Grand Tour, the route of which is due to be unveiled later this month. Nibali also confirmed he will include the Ardennes Classics in his 2018 race programme.
Nibali has already confirmed he will ride the Vuelta a Espana to prepare for the hilly World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. He has put off a final choice between targeting the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France until after the presentation of the corsa rosa on November 29.
The Giro d'Italia starts in Israel and it is expected to include three stages in Sicily, including a mountain finish on Mount Etna, near Nibali's hometown of Messina.
Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport is hoping to convince Chris Froome to ride the Giro d'Italia and this could also influence Nibali's final decision. He may prefer to avoid a clash with the Team Sky leader in Italy in the hope of then beating him in France in July.
Nibali revealed his race plans for 2018 while collected a series of prizes in Italy on Monday. He won the Giglio d'Oro prize in Tuscany and then travelled to Milan to collect a Tuttobici Oscar.
He opted to target the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2017, finishing third behind Tom Dumoulin and Nairo Quintana in May and then second to Froome in September. He ended his 2017 season a high by winning Il Lombardia with a solo attack. Since then, Nibali has had little time for holidays and has started to plan and prepare for 2018.
"I'm already working towards next season. I didn't really have a holiday this year, I used the time to have a plate removed from my collarbone and to move house. I've got the first Bahrain-Merida training camp on December 7 and I'll make my season debut at the Vuelta a San Juan on January 21," Nibali explained to Corriere dello Sport.
"Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Vuelta are two definite goals for 2018. I'll ride the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"We'll decide between the Tour and the Giro after we've seen the route of the Giro. I can't hide that I'd like to return to the Tour but it'd be difficult to miss the Giro if it passes through Sicily. It's a tough choice. We'll evaluate things as a team and consider the season as a whole."
The 2018 Tour route
Nibali is known for his aggression and noted that the 2018 Tour de France is similar to that of 2014, where he gained time on his rivals on the cobbled stage and then dominated in the mountains. Chris Froome crashed that year, quitting the Tour the day before the cobbled stage.
"In some ways it's similar and there are also some new aspects There's also a lot more pave this time," Nibali noted. "The 65km stage in the Pyrenees with three climbs one after the other is very demanding and difficult to control; it favours attacks and can turn the race upside down."
Nibali suggested that one short stage per Grand Tour is enough and is in favour of time trial stages and three weeks of racing in Grand Tours despite often losing time to his rivals in time trials.
"There has to be everything in a Grand Tour: flat roads, climbs, descents, chances for the sprinters and so it's right there are also time trials. That way the most complete rider wins," he suggested. "I'm against reducing Grand Tours to two weeks, it destroys the nature of the race. The strongest riders, who have the best recovery and endurance, emerge in the third week. Reducing the number of stages would also reduce the chances for other riders.
"I think reducing the size of teams is enough. We already faced that problem this year because we lost a rider right from the start at both the Giro and the Vuelta."
Nibali turned 33 on November 14 but insisted he is still at his best and is motivated for 2018.
"I think a rider reaches their peak at around 30. Maturity has its good points," he said. "I'm still having fun and want to enjoy my maturity even if I know that not every season is the same and always successful."