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Vincenzo Nibali carries new outlook into season debut

Mads Pedersen and Bauke Mollema also lead Trek-Segafredo at Bessèges debut in France.

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Vincenzo Nibali and his Trek-Segafredo teammates are pivoting under ever-changing coronavirus pandemic conditions, and enter this week’s Etoile des Bessèges with a philosophical take.

“The desire to return to racing is great, despite this sudden change in schedule making the debut more turbulent than expected,” Nibali said “Unfortunately, we are still living in a precarious situation and we have to put that into consideration. We just hope that the situation turns for the better in the coming weeks and months.”

Following a sub-par 2020 campaign, the Italian star vows to take on a new perspective, and race every event with renewed vigor. The 36-year-old makes his season debut Wednesday in France, along with teammates Bauke Mollema and Mads Pedersen.

“Every race will have its importance, every day will be lived with the focus on the present and not necessarily on what will be [in the future],” Nibali said in a team release. “I want to race with my mind free of future expectations, driven by that healthy competitive edge that motivates me to bring out the best.”

Nibali, entering his final year of his contract with the U.S.-registered team, said he shook things up over the winter.

“I’ve always approached the season with a few well-defined goals set on the calendar, but this year I’ve chosen to change it,” he said. “The Giro, Tour, and the Olympics are obviously events that I want to attend at my highest level, but the road that will take me there will not only be used as a path of growth in condition.

“I don’t think I have anything to prove, even though the 2020 season was definitely below expectations,” he continued. “But this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to show that I can still have my say, that I can still compete at a great level. In order to do so, I decided to change my approach to the season, with a more intense winter. It’s a substantial change from my habits, but I felt I had to do it.”

Nibali and Mollema have both signed on for the Giro-Tour double, ahead of what they hope will be the Olympic Games.

Pedersen, the 2019 world road champion, is also keen to start racing. After a wild 2020 season in the rainbow jersey, the Dane is also taking a different view to the season.

“Every race could be the last one,” Pedersen said. “Now, going into all races, I’m motivated 100 percent to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Flanders or whatever it is, I’m here to win.”

Trek-Segafredo line-up for Etoile de Bessèges (February 3-7)

Alex Kirsch (LUX)

Bauke Mollema (NED)

Ryan Mullen (IRE)

Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)

Mads Pedersen (DEN)

Mattias Skjelmose (DEN)

Edward Theuns (BEL)