MILAN (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali will race the Giro d’Italia and miss Tour de France next year according to his new boss, Astana’s Giuseppe Martinelli.
“Next year we are aiming for the Giro, to tell you the truth,” Martinelli told VeloNews. “I won’t say it’s 100 percent, but the goal is to be a true protagonist at the Giro.”
Organizer ASO will announce the 2013 Tour parcours Wednesday in Paris. Nibali placed third this year, six minutes behind winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky). Wiggins’ teammate Chris Froome was second overall.
In order to be ready for a run at La Grande Boucle, the Italian from Sicily skipped the Giro in 2012 and focused solely on the French grand tour. It was his first time participating since 2009, when he placed seventh overall. Nibali lit up the race with constant attacks to try to break Sky’s stranglehold, but suffered in the two long time trials.
Astana signed Nibali after he spent the last seven years with Liquigas. In 2010, he won the Vuelta a España and placed third in the Giro. Last year, he placed third again, bumped to second after Alberto Contador’s disqualification [Winner Michele Scarponi is embroiled in a doping investigation surrounding his work with Michele Ferrari in 2010 and that title could wind up going to Nibali —Ed.]. Team manager Martinelli wants Nibali to return to his home race instead of forcing him to improve his Tour result.
“Let’s wait until the Tour route is announced, but the idea is to win the Giro, because the Tour will be harder with [Alberto] Contador and Wiggins, who I believe will be there again, and [Cadel] Evans,” said Martinelli. “First, we are going to try to win the Giro and then maybe we will return again to the Tour.”
The team will likely take fellow new recruit Jakob Fuglsang to the Tour as a GC rider, giving Astana a one-two punch with returning captain Jani Brajkovic.
RCS Sport presented the Giro on September 30 in Milan. The route starts in Naples and features a mountainous third week with the Col du Galibier and Tre Cime di Lavaredo climbs. However, a 55.5km time trial should blast open the overall classification at the end of the first week.
“It’s long, but I can guarantee you it’s atypical,” said Martinelli. “I know the area; it’s going to be hard. The first 15km is anything but flat, then 20km of flat and a finish on a slight uphill. I don’t think it’s a time trial where the Wiggins- or Froome-types can gain a lot of time.”
French newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré reported last month that the Tour’s parcours would feature legendary climbs Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez, the latter covered twice in one day. ASO already announced that the 2013 route would begin with three stages in Corsica.
Martinelli said going to France after the Giro would be unlikely.
“The possibility is there, but if the Tour is going to be as tough as we’ve been hearing, it will be hard,” he said. “The 2012 edition was not the same Tour as the other years — and I’m not saying it was an easy Tour, but not as difficult as the other years. The climbs were designed well and the last week was light enough in light of the Olympics. It was a more open race, but of course, we saw Sky and Wiggins were super and on top of their game. It seems that next year’s race will be harder. So, it will be hard to race two grand tours and be competitive in both of them.”
Nibali, in Martinelli’s opinion, needs to improve and find one of his rivals out of shape to have a chance at winning the Tour. He said, though, that placing third this year would give him the confidence to compete for the win again.
“I’d hope that in 2014 everyone else is focused elsewhere and leaves the Tour to us. Maybe one will aim for the Giro and one will aim for the Vuelta,” said Martinelli. “We hope it’s that way and we find extra space. In 2013, like I said, the first goal is the Giro.”