Vincenzo Nibali says he doesn't believe he deserved to get thrown off the Vuelta a España for holding on to his team car on stage two after a crash

Vincenzo Nibali is packing his bags this morning and heading home from the Vuelta a España after only racing 160 kilometres.

The race jury kicked out the 2010 winner after stage two for taking a long tow from his Astana team car while chasing back. The team, however, defends its actions.

Nibali crashed, and blamed Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE), with many others at 30 kilometres to race. He chased, sometimes alone, and remained a minute and a half behind.

At 16 kilometres to race to the summit of the Caminito del Rey in southern Spain, the Astana car zipped alongside Nibali, Nibali grabbed on the driver’s side door, and they sped ahead of the chase group. It was all caught on video and made its way around the Internet.

The race jury president, Bruno Valcic, after seeing the recording and talking to the team and the Vuelta race director, kicked out Nibali and the sports director driving the car, Alexandre Shefer.

“I saw the video, I know what we did!” Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli told Cycling Weekly.

“Any director would have done the same thing in our situation. I’ve seen this a thousand times before, at the Tour, everywhere.”

Often in cycling, riders take what is called a sticky bottle after a mechanical or crash so that they may rejoin the peloton. Martinelli saw this incident as the same as any others, but one that was caught on video.

He added, “Try to find me an honest person in the peloton.”

Shefer went to Nibali’s hotel room last night in the foothills of Andalusia overlooking the sea. He cried and said, ‘Sorry.’ Nibali replied that it is also his fault.

“What happened in the Vuelta, happens in every race,” Nibali wrote on his Facebook page. “This does not mean that it is not wrong and that I shouldn’t go unpunished. Just that the punishment is too severe.

“I thought I’d get a hefty fine and kicked down the classification. I would’ve accepted a penalty of 10 minutes! After all, I’m not the first or the last in this type of story.”

Nibali returned to the group, but lost time on the climb. He finished the stage 31st, around one minute behind the favourites with Sky’s Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana (Movistar). However, the jury struck those results and sent Nibali back to Italy.

  • Tom Hutchinson

    ‘We only cheated because everyone else cheats too.’

    Where have I heard that excuse before in cycling?!

  • arcidiavolo

    The defense of Nibali is simply unacceptable and what he did with the car as well. His statement on Facebook is nothing more that pathetic and ridiculous. My humble opinion is that the Sicilian guy needs just a little bit of humilty, and he must apologizes definitely and without any ifs or buts…

  • RobTM

    OK I get that, just did not see any point in continuing the long discussion getting further from any factual basis.
    I’m not particularly a Froome guy, I just wanted to see if you were able to check the facts and either change opinion (not likely on Net) or perhaps come up with a real good point with some factual basis to justify the dirty team gibe.
    Nibali has in past tried to sledge the Sky guys, but apart from 2013 Giro when Wiggins rode horribly, it seems to back fire on him. It was also strange he blamed Froome, when Martin’s yellow jersey group crashed near finish in TdF.
    Anyway.. who cares about the TTT route now 🙂

  • David Sundheim

    Hey I tried to apologize to you in the other post (it is pending). I do owe you one, I crossed the line, for a cheap laugh, asking if you’re Brailsford, I would like you to know I didn’t want it to end that way. I enjoyed our back and forth, its clear you’re a Froome guy and I am a Nibali guy, but its just sport… It’s entertainment, I shouldn’t take it so seriously. You didn’t deserve the cheap shot. I am sorry it offended you. I was trying to be funny, not mean spirited, but its not right to let it go like that. You deserve better.

  • RobTM

    This is ironical in Vuelta build up, commenting on TdF feud with Froome, Nibali said : “There are lots of incidents in races, and what happens in the race stays
    in the race,” Nibali said, adding: “At the time, I preferred not to
    mention it, but in 2010 Froome was excluded from the Giro for being
    towed by a car…” (it was actually a police bike and Froome was abandoning on the first summit)
    Not dropping a large group of riders on your wheel, to jump across the gap to team cars behind peleton.

  • jonesy555

    Ridiculous comments. If he was alone trying to catch up, maybe he could get away with it but this is cheating pure and simple. Why didn’t he get off his back and jump in the back seat? I have no sympathy for Nibali, the guy is a cheat and right at home with Astana. The way he lied about trying to benefit from Froome’s mechanical at the Tour just reaffirms that.

  • William

    Astana should fire the manager, as well as the sports director. For him to say that it happens all the time is a disgrace on his part because I don’t believe it is true. Grabbing hold of the car and then the car speeding up and leaving everyone behind appears to be highly unusual. He could have said that a sticky bottle happens a lot. But what they did was out of the ordinary. He is also a disgrace for saying there is not an honest person in the peloton. And Nibali did not help himself by saying what he did happens in every race. He should have said what he did was wrong period and leave it at that. He shows that he has not come to grips with what he did.

  • RobTM

    Like Nibs couldn’t simply let go, when the car surged? You bet he would have done, if there’d been a commisaire’s car or camera bike in eyeshot. Oooh, did the DS super-glue Nibs’s mitts to the door to?
    Nibs should consider Rule #43 then #5, before he engages mouth or posts in future
    Nibali even mentioned Froome being DQ-ed for a tow in 2010 Giro, when asked about a feud in pre-Vuelta build up, getting the facts slightly wrong. so he was even chucking dirt pre-race on this very issue, kismet.

  • Slapparoo

    I reckon the best thing Nibalo could do is leave Astana, that team is just bad news. The longer he stays there the more he gets tared with the same brush. It would have been the Director de Sportive on the radio telling Nibali to grab a hold of the car, then roared off once he did, maybe he had the sticky bottle, then accelerated, but the team car definitely sped up and that is something Nibali has no control over. They probably came back to tell Nibali, Aru is the new GC rider if he doesn’t take a hold.

  • J1

    “Try to find me an honest person in the peloton.”

    Well it’s not the ones wearing the blue & yellow, clearly.

  • Anthony Jackson

    Seriously deluded. Astana has some deep cultural and attitude problems with regards to the rules. The video of this is just insulting to the group he was with….. I also wonder if Astana are willing to stretch the rules this far in public, then what are they doing behind closed doors?

  • Crydda

    Methinks Vincenzo should stop digging.

  • Mike Prytherch

    Sticky Bottle, riding along side the team car for a few seconds, whilst wrong does happen all the time, we all know it, but grabbing the car and the car accelerating away leaving behind a group of riders…. he is living in cloud cuckoo land