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Segafredo boss Massimo Zanetti explained that the Sicilian grand tour star, second in the 2019 Giro d’Italia that ended Sunday, will leave Bahrain-Merida for his team.
“I’ve signed Nibali. From 2020, he will be in my team,” Zanetti told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper as the dust settled on the 2019 Giro.
Nibali already won the 2014 Tour de France, the 2010 Vuelta a España, and the Giro in 2013 and 2016. He tried to overhaul Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) for the 2019 trophy but was unable.
“Vincenzo is the best that Italy has and is one of the top in the world. The problem will be who comes next after him. We have faith in Giulio Ciccione,” Zanetti said.
“I’ve seen that all the riders need a patron or father figure. The teams are more and more international, but you need a family feeling. Here Nibali will find all that and we are going to build a high-level team around him.”
Our sources last month hinted at Nibali’s transfer from Bahrain-Merida. Nibali joins his bother Antonio, who helped in the Giro at the American team. Also joining Trek-Segafredo are Nibali’s doctor, Emilio Magni, trainer Paolo Slongo, and masseur Michele Pallini.
Nibali left Team Astana after four years, 2013 to 2016, to join Bahrain-Merida in 2017. After a ride with Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, he helped him start Bahrain-Merida.
An insider close to Nibali told VeloNews that Nibali should earn around €3 million a year with Trek-Segafredo. Team Astana tried to convince Nibali to return to its team, where he had won the Tour and the Giro twice.
Nibali continues to race at the highest level. He won Milano-Sanremo solo in 2018 and over the last month he fought to second overall in the Giro. Zanetti paid attention. The Sanremo ride particularly caught his eye.
Over the winter, general manager Luca Guercilena and Zanetti made the push for Nibali. It came at a time when Bahrain-Merida were offering only a one-year extension to the 34-year-old known as ‘The Shark’ in Italy.
“I’m faithful that he has at least two more yeas ahead of him at the top level,” continued Zanetti. “He’s tenacious, serious and has a strong desire. He showed that in his return from the Tour incident last year. In the top champions, their mentalities makes the difference. And Nibali has it.”
As Nibali joins Trek-Segafredo, he will find Australian Richie Porte, who joined at the beginning of 2019. It is unclear how the two will split duties at the Tour de France.
Nibali now takes aim at the Tour, which could be his last grand tour for Bahrain-Merida.
“The Giro took a lot of energy from me,” he said.
“My idea is to focus on stages and maybe the mountains and the polka-dot jersey.”