Vincenzo Nibali: I don’t have many seasons anymore, so I think it was right to honor the Giro d’Italia
It wasn’t meant to end that way, but, under the circumstances, it couldn’t have ended any differently. For six consecutive appearances, Vincenzo Nibali’s Giro d’Italia ended with a trip to the podium. This year, like last time, his race ended 50 meters from the podium in Piazza del Duomo, as he settled into the back seat of a Trek-Segafredo van.
The last starters – maglia rosa Egan Bernal, Damiano Caruso and Simon Yates – were just starting their efforts as Nibali finished his. The Sicilian broke his wrist in training three weeks before the Giro, and although he recovered quickly enough to start, it would be his only victory in May.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Nibali fought hard to limit his losses in the first two weeks. After giving up all his aspirations for GC on the Zoncolan, he injured his ribs in a collision the next day, putting his race in danger.
Either way, he converted to stage hunter, going on the offensive on the shortened stage in Cortina d’Ampezzo. There is nothing to do. He crashed on stage 17 but fought to finish in Milan.
On Sunday, Nibali finished the Giro in 18th place overall, more than an hour behind Bernal. It was his lowest corsa rosa result since placing 19th on his debut in 2007, when he was part of the Liquigas guard who helped Danilo Di Luca to victory. But even before heading to Turin for the Grande Partenza, Nibali suspected that his Giro could go like this.
“I decided to race anyway,” said Nibali. “I was in trouble from the start and things didn’t go well after that. It was effort after effort. What I have said in the last few days I do not need to repeat. It was definitely not an easy Giro for me. .
“But I don’t have many seasons anymore, so I think it was fair to honor the Giro. The Giro has given me a lot. I won it twice and the joy was really huge. The crowd was there. so stratospheric, and they showed again this year, although I was not well. There is nothing more to say about that. “
Rather than ruminating on his own race, Nibali preferred to salute that of his former teammate Damiano Caruso, who clinched a surprising second place overall, crowned by a moving stage victory at Alpe Motta on Sunday. The two Sicilians had followed a similar route to the pro ranks, moving north to Tuscany to roll for Mastromarco, then run together to Liquigas and Bahrain.
“I’m happy with this Giro for the way Damiano raced it. He has given me a lot as a rider and we are like brothers,” said Nibali. “I don’t know how his time trial is going now, but I’m very happy for him. He’s a symbol of Sicily that gets things done, that doesn’t give up.”
After placing seventh in last year’s delayed Giro overall, Nibali suggested structuring his season differently in 2021. Even though his ambitions in the three-week races were not officially demoted, it was clear that the Tokyo Olympics would be the centerpiece of his campaign.
The road race on July 24 remains a target, and Nibali is expected to start the Tour de France as preparation, although his precise status in Davide Cassani’s Italian squad is not yet certain. Nibali may be guaranteed a seat on the plane for Japan, but drivers like Caruso and Alberto Bettiol could nurture leadership ambitions after their demonstrations on this Giro. Nibali, for his part, has unfinished business with the Olympics after a late accident cost him a probable gold medal in Rio five years ago.
“Sometimes too much pressure can overwhelm you, and it’s not easy. Always riding as a leader is not easy,” said Nibali. “It’s clearly the big goal of the season, but sometimes wanting something at all costs doesn’t do good either. You have to arrive with a certain lightness.
“There is still a long way to go to the Olympics, and the goal is to get there in the best conditions at the right time. But at the moment there are a lot of great Italian riders who can make great Olympics. , like Damiano Caruso and Gianni Moscon. “
As Nibali spoke to reporters, a group of tifosi gathered around the barriers near the Trek-Segafredo van. A particularly thunderous voice called him several times, to the slight annoyance of television crews in search of clear sound: “Great Vincenzo! Dai Squalo, come and watch us!”
Once the reporters filtered out, Nibali kindly obliged. He got out of the van and timidly raised two arms. He was waving, he wasn’t celebrating, but his reception was the same as it had ever been on the last day of the Giro. The tifosi applauded.