Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour de France ambitions will become clear on the first mountain finish at La Planche des Belles Filles on stage 6, with his coach Paolo Slongo describing the Sicilian as a potential “loose cannon” who could shake up the race if he can rediscover the form that helped him finish second overall at the Giro d’Italia behind Richard Carapaz.
Nibali won the Tour de France in 2014, completing a rare collection of all three Grand Tours. He opted to target the Giro d’Italia this year but agreed to ride the Tour de France on request of his Bahrain-Merida team. The 34-year-old Sicilian has always played down any suggestions he will target overall victory, saying stage victories are his goal, but with both Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin out of the race due to injury, Nibali and Slongo know there could be a chance to win a second yellow jersey.
Nibali has only raced the Gran Premio Città di Lugano, near his home in Switzerland, since finishing the Giro d’Italia on June 2 but after two weeks of recovery, he has recently been training with teammate and key domestique Damiano Caruso at altitude in Livigno, high in the Italian Alps. Both riders brought their families with them.
Nibali and Caruso will ride the Italian national championships road race on a hilly course near Parma before some heading to Brussels next Wednesday for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Brussels.
The family training camp was about freshening up mentally and physically as well as doing some quality training. Slongo revealed that Nibali will clock up between 75 and 80 hours of training in June instead of the 90 hours of intense training and a week of racing at the Criterium du Dauphine he would have done had he not ridden the Giro d’Italia.
“We’ve done what we think was right and in July we’ll find out if it was enough,” Slongo explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The first mountain finish at La Planche des Belles Filles is where I believe we can understand what kind of Tour de France Nibali can have. It’s the first time that Nibali is riding the Giro and the Tour trying to be competitive in both. He rode the Tour after targeting the Giro in 2016 but then the Tour was about preparing for the Olympics.
“We’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, it’s impossible to promise anything for now. But I see Vincenzo as a loose cannon and I’m sure none of his rivals will underestimate him. After that first mountain finish [where Nibali won in 2014 and was fourth in 2012 - ed.] we’ll know more.”