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Astana manager: Nibali’s form in doubt ahead of Vuelta, worlds

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Aug. 7, 2013
Vincenzo Nibali spent too much time doing other things besides riding his bike since his Giro win, his team manager said. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

MILAN, Italy (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali let loose too much after winning the Giro d’Italia, says team Astana. He is behind and chasing form heading towards the Vuelta a España and the world championships.

“I’m not going to hide it, I expected him to be further along [in fitness],” team manager Giuseppe Martinelli told Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He let up too much after the Giro and when he got going again, too much time had already passed.”

Nibali won the Giro handily in May ahead of Rigoberto Urán (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). It added to his 2010 Vuelta a España title and third place overall in the Tour de France last year.

The Italians marked the Vuelta a España, to be held August 24-September 15, as the next goal. The signs are not great, however. Nibali, who traveled to Kazakhstan twice after the Giro for sponsor commitments, was not in peak form when he returned at the Tour of Poland last week. After winning Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro del Trentino, and the Giro d’Italia, Nibali finished more than an hour behind winner Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge).

Martinelli believes Poland’s hard start in Trentino, Italy, worked against Nibali. He hopes the Vuelta a Burgos, which begins Wednesday, will put his star on track. If not, fans might start to put their money on Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) or Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

“Maybe this will be better for his goal of winning the world championship, but I’d rather not think of that now,” Martinelli added. “We are going to Spain to win.”

Bettini relaxed

“It’s hot and he’ll lose any extra kilos right away,” Italian national coach Paolo Bettini said last week of Nibali. “Anyway, the worlds are not like the Vuelta. It’s like a one-day classic, so a few extra kilograms won’t hurt.”

Bettini selected Nibali to lead the worlds team last year in The Netherlands, and said that he will do the same this year in Florence. He already has a planned trip to Spain September 5-6 to see Nibali and potential team Italy candidates. From what he has seen so far, he is not worried — at least for the worlds at the end of September.

“Worried? Not at all. Actually, I’d be worried if Nibali was there fighting for the win on the Pordoi stage [in Poland],” Bettini added.

“He had his contractual responsibilities to respect after the Giro. He told me at the end of June, he couldn’t handle it anymore and needed to recover. I understand, I did the same thing, stopping riding for a good period at one point.”

Last year, Nibali raced the Tour de France. He kept rolling towards the worlds with a steady diet of races: London Olympics, Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge, and the Giro di Padania, which he won.

Martinelli is worried but Bettini remains calm. The two-month break and the Poland/Burgos/Vuelta lead-up should be perfect for the worlds, which boasts the hardest course in years.

“It’s better he raced as he did in Poland, not trying to rack up another win,” continued Bettini.

The Vuelta a Burgos, which takes the riders 139 kilometers around Burgos today, will give both Martinelli and Bettini an idea of what type of leader they will have. If Nibali is too far off target, all could be lost. If he improves from Poland, on the other hand, then anything is possible.

FILED UNDER: News / Road / Vuelta a España TAGS: / /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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