Nibali plans end-of-season show in Italy

The Italian will race Il Lombardia and a handful of other one-day races to close out his season.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), despite already racing to third overall in the Giro d’Italia and second in the Vuelta a España this year, is planning an end-of-season show for his Italian fans.

Nibali is considering racing at the upcoming series of Italian one-day races ending with Il Lombardia, the “Race of the Falling Leaves,” on October 7.

The Sicilian, who now lives in Lugano, Switzerland, won the race in his Italian tricolor jersey in 2015.

“This 2017 season is still not over,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport when the Vuelta ended in Madrid on Sunday.

“I have big goals coming up the Giro della Toscana, the Giro dell’Emilia, Tre Valli Varesine, and above all, Il Lombardia.”

RCS Sport, which also organizes the Giro d’Italia, runs both Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia. The latter is one of five monuments in cycling and the only one not in the spring.

The race, usually covering the roads around Lake Como and Bergamo, holds a special place in Nibali’s heart. His victory in 2015 not only came in the national champion’s jersey but after a season of ups and downs that included being kicked out of the Vuelta for holding onto his team car.

He also underlined his strength in both grand tours and one-day races, a rarity in modern cycling. He is the only current grand tour champion to have won a one-day monument.

“Racing to win grand tours, you lose some of that explosiveness needed for one-day races,” Nibali explained in 2015. “In one-day races like this and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, though, you can use your climbing experience and try to win.”

In other one-day monuments, Nibali placed third in the Milano-Sanremo and second in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He tried winning the world championships in 2013 in Florence, but a crash spoiled his run and he placed fourth behind winner Rui Costa. The 2017 course in Bergen, Norway, suits a punchy sprinter like Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) or two-time defending champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

“The worlds? It’s still soon to decide,” Nibali said of the September 24 race. “For sure, I want to be ready for the worlds in 2018 because that course in Tirolo suits me very much. To arrive there at my best, I’ll need to return to the Vuelta.”

For 2017, team Italy will likely build a team around Elia Viviani (Sky), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).

Nibali crashed in the final mountain stage of the Vuelta on Saturday. He saved his second place overall, but needs to understand how much it hurt him. The Bahrain-Merida team later announced Nibali broke two ribs in his crash and, due to a forced rest, will not be able to race the Worlds.

“Based on this, I’ll decide,” he added. “But I’ve talked with the Italian director and the course doesn’t really suit me. What role would I play?”