As Vincenzo Nibali slips down the Giro d’Italia general classification the Astana team seem to be preparing for life without the Italian champion, with a contract with the new Bahrain team expected to be signed imminently.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that such a deal could be finalised this weekend at the end of the Giro d’Italia, but it reports that some members of the Astana team haven’t waited that long to distance themselves from the rider.
According to the paper, general manager Alexander Vinokourov is nowhere to be seen, sports director Alexandre Shefer is not by Nibali’s side and Guiseppe Martinelli is taking refuge in the team bus to avoid the buzz of journalists.
While transfers are not to be announced until August 1, the newspaper reports that the long-awaited deal between Nibali and the proposed team of Bahrain royal prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
It is reported that Nibali’s contract takes up about half of Astana’s salary budget, meaning Vinokourov would be able to tie up Vuelta a España winner Fabio Aru for the long term and maybe have some left over for Peter Sagan, the rumours suggest.
For the Bahrain prince, Nibali’s salary demands would probably not be a problem, although the Italian has failed to show his 2014 Tour de France-winning form in the past two seasons.