The 36-year-old Sicilian will move to Astana for 2022, which is likely to be the final season of his long and successful career.
He has been unable to win a race in the white and red Trek-Segafredo colours but he continues to be the best Italian Grand Tour rider of his generation. He finished 16th at the Giro d’Italia after injury and disappointment, and he quit the Tour de France after targeting stage wins in order to travel early to the Tokyo Olympics. It was his biggest goal of the season after crashing out in Rio in 2016, but Nibali attacked early and was not part of the decisive move that fought for the medals.
Nibali has won Il Lombardia twice and is hoping to add a third and win for Trek-Segafredo if he can find a peak of end of season form.
“I’d be happy to win. I’m coming out of a difficult moment results-wise for a number of reasons. The important thing is never to give up trying and always think ahead. Cycling and sport follows a cycle and I think I’ve still got something to achieve,” Nibali said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Giro di Sicilia was held in the spring in 2019 but was moved to the autumn for its return this year, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also returning after fracturing his collarbone during the early stages of the Vuelta a España and Chris Froome leading the Israel Start-Up Nation team. Also in action are Romain Bardet (Team DSM), the USA’s Joe Dombrowski and 2019 winner Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), while Nate Brown leads the Rally Cycling team that helped McNulty win two years ago.
The race started in the southern tip of the island on Tuesday and then heads anticlockwise via Mondello near Palermo, Caronia on the northern coast, with Friday’s final stage climbing the foothills of Mount Etna before the finish in Mascali south of Taormina.
Nibali is eyeing the final stage near his hometown of Messina.
“I’ve ridden the Portella Mandrazzi climb lots of times in training, it’s not far from my home, I was even here in August,” he said.
“Four days of racing in my legs will help be near my best for Il Lombardia. I rode the Tour de Luxembourg and I was going quite well.”
Nibali preferred to avoid talking about his move to Astana in 2022 but has no plans to leave the sport after his final season as a professional.
“I don’t know what I'll have for dinner tonight, so I don’t know what I’ll be doing after 2022…” he joked.
“I want to end 2021 on a high first, then it’ll be 2022 and then there’ll be time to think about the future. I hope to stay in the sport. I feel part of it, I love cycling and it’s given me a lot. One day I’d like to give something back.”
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