The Italian will ride the Giro d'Italia, but could also make an appearance at the Tour de France as preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics

Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali could line-up at the Tour de France after all, saying he would use the race as training and preparation ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

It has already been confirmed that Nibali will target the Giro d’Italia whilst teammate and potential usurper Fabio Aru will take on the Tour.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the 2013 Giro winner opened up about the coming season, saying that “to be on form, you need the Tour.”

He continued, “we’re studying things with (Astana coach) Paolo Slongo. It’d be a pretty unusual race programme and perhaps even excessive.

“But how can I be ready for Rio without the Tour? The Tour of Austria and the Tour of Poland do not have the same race rhythm but could be a valid alternative: two weeklong races separated by just a day.”

Nibali will likely confirm his race programme in the next few days, revealing where else the Shark of Messina will be aiming for victory.

A lacklustre 2015 was slightly saved by the win at Il Lombardia, but as a rider who has won all three Grand Tours he will be hoping for much more next season.

The need for a good season is made even more pressing by his contract coming to a close at the end of 2016. Despite indications that Astana may shift their focus to Aru after his Vuelta a España win, Nibali is confident of his position.

“I think my chances are good,” he told the Italian newspaper.

“They’ve already offered to renew my contract twice, the first time was two days after the Vuelta a España and I think that was a sign of respect. The other offer was more recently.”

Away from his own race programme, Nibali was the latest rider to comment on the security situation in Paris after the terrorist attacks earlier this month.

“Our sport is more vulnerable than others. I’m a little bit afraid and not only for the races, where the risks are high. Unfortunately races are an easy target,” he said.

Tinkoff’s Michael Rogers made headlines when he expressed his fears for event safety in the wake of the attacks.