Vincenzo Nibali has dismissed any talk about him being too old to win Grand Tours and major races at 35 and will target the Giro d’Italia and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Nibali is hoping to win a third maglia rosa and then make amends for a high-speed crash in Rio in 2016 that ended his chances of a medal and left him with a fractured collarbone. Nibali has moved from Bahrain-Merida to Trek-Segafredo for 2020, criticizing his former team on the way, and is excited for a new chapter in his career.
He will share Grand Tour leadership with Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema. They will target the 2020 Tour de France, while young Italian teammate Giulio Ciccone will be Nibali’s understudy and key support in the Giro d’Italia.
With the Olympic road race coming just six days after the end of the Tour de France, riders are facing tough choices. Alejandro Valverde, Michael Woods and Julian Alaphilippe will ride the Tour de France and then dash to Tokyo.
Nibali has opted to combine his love for racing his home Grand Tour with a final shot at a career-defining gold medal. He is expected to also ride the Vuelta a España to be on form for the hilly World Championships in Switzerland.
“I really believe there’s natural logic behind the decision to miss the Tour in 2020 and instead target the Giro and then Tokyo. Then there is the hilly world Championships in Switzerland to aim for. 2020 is a great season for riders like me,” Nibali said, explaining his plans for 2020.
Nibali finished second behind Richard Carapaz at the 2019 Giro d’Italia and still regrets letting the Ecuadorian slip away while he carefully marked Primož Roglič. The 2020 Giro route includes three time trials, stages on Nibali’s home turf in Sicily and a more balanced route.
“There’s more time trialing in 2020 but I like the route a little more, it’s harder, there are climbs and key stages spread across the three weeks, plus that visit home to Sicily,” Nibali said with enthusiasm.
“I’m not too bad and with the help of Trek I think I can only do better in the time trials this year. We’ve already worked on my position on the track and I’ll have a time trial bike at home to train on, incredibly that wasn’t always the case with Bahrain-Merida.”
While some riders opt to begin their seasons in Australia or Colombia, Nibali has gone for a European option combined with an early altitude camp.
“We’ve pushed my debut down the road a little to the Volta ao Algarve, so we’ve inserted an altitude camp in January,” Nibali explained. “It will be a key moment of training but also a key moment to build the group of riders that will help me at the Giro. Targeting a Grand Tour is more than just the three weeks of intense racing, there’s months of preparation and hard work.”
Few riders over 35 have won a Grand Tour but Nibali dismisses any suggestions he might be past his best. He will face Carapaz, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) on home turf in May.
“I don’t know if I’ll win but I prepare well I think I can do something. The fact I’ve asked to start my season early and go to altitude is a sign of my motivation,” he said.
“I’m not bothered that people call me old. They’ve been saying it for three years…. If I’m past it, what about poor old Valverde, who is almost 40?”