After securing Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) for next season, the Tour Colombia organisers have said that Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) will also be on the start line, according to the Colombian media.
The race, previously known as the Colombia Oro y Paz, is keen to have a more international roster after making its debut this season. Speaking at an event in Medellin, Colombia, where the race's headquarters was being inaugurated, the head of the Colombian Federation, Jorge Ovidio González, told the local press that Nibali would be in attendance.
However, Cyclingnews spoke to Bahrain-Merida, which did not confirm his appearance and said that Nibali's current plans are to go to the team's January training camp in Catalonia before heading to Tenerife for a training camp on Mount Teide. Cyclingnews understands that Nibali has different plans for 2019 and will likely not race Tour Colombia.
Nibali has previously said that he would like a more straightforward start to the year after he fell ill ahead of his 2018 debut at the Vuelta a San Juan. Nibali has started his season at the Argentinean race, which takes place between January 27 and February 3, for the last three seasons. The Tour Colombia does not start until February 12 and runs until the February 17, so Nibali could ride both races if he wished but is wary of travelling far afield so early in the season after his experience this year.
Nibali is expected to finalise his 2019 race programme next month when the Bahrain-Merida team meet for their winter training camp in Croatia. The Italian is still choosing between targeting the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France. Nibali rode the Tour de France this season but abandoned after stage 12 after an crash on the Alpe d'Huez left him with a fractured vertebra.
In addition to Froome and Valverde, home riders Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling), Egan Bernal (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) are all expected to line-up. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) has also penciled in the event for his return to racing after missing a large part of the 2018 due to mononucleosis.
The Tour Colombia held its first edition this year under the name Colombia Oro y Paz, with Bernal taking the overall victory ahead of Quintana and Uran respectively.
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