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Vincenzo Nibali will close out a special career on a special bike Saturday.
Astana-Qazaqstan’s bike partner Wilier Triestina revealed a special-edition 0 SLR frame for “the shark of Messina” to ride in the final race of his 17-year career at Il Lombardia this weekend.
Both Nibali and Alejandro Valverde will hang up their wheels after Saturday’s monument and leave pro cycling short of two of its patrons.
Nibali won all three grand tours in a sweep only shared by Chris Froome of the still-active peloton. But unlike Froome, Nibali was just as dangerous in one-day races, claiming home victories at the Italian Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia.
The 37-year-old led his nation’s hopes for more than a decade. His retirement will leave a void among an Italian tifosi seeking new stars.
“We simply couldn’t miss this occasion to recognize how important Vincenzo has been for cycling. A bicycle manufacturer’s job is undoubtedly technical. But as technical as it may be, the feelings of those who dedicate themselves to a project always shine through.,” said Wilier president Andrea Gastaldello.
“This is why, we – every single one of us at Wilier Triestina – have decided to pay tribute to Vincenzo Nibali with a special paintwork that would represent not just a successful career, but also our sense of gratitude for giving us so many thrills along the way.”
The retirement-edition 0 SLR frame brings flashes of pink, yellow, and red in recognition of the Sicilian’s grand tour hat trick. A series of subtle decals give further detail of Nibali’s packed palmarès.
The fork carries icons to represent Nibali’s victories at the 2010 Vuelta a España, and the 2013 and 2016 Giro d’Italia. Stars represent the number of days the Italian ace wore each race’s leader’s jersey.
Nibali stole the show in the 2016 Giro with a dramatic final-week comeback that steered Steven Kruijswijk off-course on the Coll dell’Agnello and overturned Esteban Chaves soon afterward.
The star-studded seat tube nods toward Nibali’s dominant Tour de France victory. The “shark” took a bite of yellow in Yorkshire, caused chaos on the cobblestones after Froome crashed out, and led the race for every day but two.
The Italian Wilier brand calls out Nibali’s two years as national road champion, but no pictures seen symbolize the more prestigious prizes of victories in Milan-San Remo and twice at Il Lombardia.
And of course, there’s a shark swimming in the deep blue.