Vincenzo Nibali fell short in his bid to regain top form in time for the World Championships following the fractured vertebra he sustained at the Tour de France, but the Italian will race on three more occasions before calling time on his 2018 season.
On Saturday, Nibali will be in action at the Giro dell’Emilia, which finishes on the climb to the Santuario di San Luca in Bologna, site of the opening time trial of the 2019 Giro d’Italia. The Bahrain-Merida rider will then ride the Tre Valli Varesine next Tuesday, before turning his attention to his final outing of the campaign at Il Lombardia on October 13.
Nibali is chasing a third Il Lombardia victory after winning the race in 2015 and again last season, while he is also seeking to become the first rider to win both Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia in the same season since Eddy Merckx achieved the feat in 1972. On Wednesday, Nibali trained on the course of this year’s Il Lombardia, posing for a photograph atop the steep Colma di Sormano climb with Fabio Aru, Dario Cataldo, Enrico Gasparotto and Domenico Pozzovivo.
Nibali placed 49th in Sunday’s World Championship road race after losing contact on the final lap, though he reported no ill effects from his back injury after the race. He had undergone percutaneous bilateral vertebroplasty surgery in early August. Nibali’s Tour crash occurred when a spectator leant into the road on stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez.
Giro d’Italia or Tour de France in 2019?
It remains to be seen whether Nibali will return to the Tour de France next year, as La Gazzetta dello Sport has this week reported that he will make the Giro d’Italia the centrepiece of his 2019 season.
Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland has insisted, however, that no decision has been taken on Nibali’s 2019 programme at this early juncture. “We still haven’t decided our goals for 2019,” Copeland told Cyclingnews on Thursday.
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