With his Trek-Segafredo contract set to expire at the end of the season, four-time Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali has been linked with a move to Deceuninck-QuickStep or a return to Astana-Premier Tech for 2022.
The 36-year-old, who recently finished 18th at the Giro d'Italia having fractured his wrist in the run-up to the race before crashing twice during it, has spent the past two seasons with Trek-Segafredo and looks set to leave the team at the end of this season.
A report from Ciro Scognamiglio and Luca Gialanella in La Gazzetta dello Sport places QuickStep and Astana as the teams most likely to move for Nibali next year, with the Belgian squad seeking a mentor for Remco Evenepoel.
Astana are reported to be in 'pole position', with team manager Giuseppe Martinelli having worked with Nibali during his previous spell at the team between 2013 and 2016.
Those years saw Nibali win three of his four career Grand Tour wins, including the Tour de France in 2014, while he also took wins at Tirreno-Adriatico and Il Lombardia with the Kazakhstani team.
A move to Deceuninck-QuickStep looks less likely, given the high wages Nibali would command, while brother Antonio, soigneur Michele Palini, and doctor Emiliano Magni made the move with him to Trek-Segafredo two years ago. Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere has recently dismissed the prospects of signing Peter Sagan for 2022, citing the large entourage of riders and staff the Slovak would command.
The same Gazzetta report also noted Nibali's recent meeting with Italian national coach Davide Cassani, with Nibali through to currently be out of the reckoning for a place in Italy's five-man squad for the road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) is reported to be in the squad currently following his second place at the Giro d'Italia, along with stage winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo), and Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), who played a key role in Egan Bernal's overall victory.
Nibali's Trek-Segafredo teammate Giulio Ciccone, who enjoyed a strong start at the Giro before fading due to a crash and an illness, is also in the frame along with Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), who finished 15th overall.
Nibali, who was in contention for victory at the Rio Olympics in 2016 before crashing on the final descent, is reported to be in a reserve spot at the moment, while world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) will ride the time trial in Tokyo alongside a rider from the road race squad.
"I want to bring the best line-up – as in Rio in 2016. In Brazil, Nibali was coming from a Giro victory. Now, unfortunately, his situation is much more delicate, and for faults that are not his," Cassani told Gazzetta.
"Vincenzo is an asset to our cycling. I don't know – let's see how he is over the next few days and what feelings he might have. The decision will come at the National Championships in Imola on June 20."
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