Contador lists Nibali as one of his top Tour rivals

Vincenzo Nibali, Vuelta a Espana 2010, stage 15

Alberto Contador counts on Vuelta a España winner, Italian Vincenzo Nibali to be one of his most dangerous rivals when he races for his fourth Tour de France win next July.

Contador told the EFE news agency yesterday, "Nibali could be one of the most dangerous rivals next year at the Tour de France."

Nibali won the Vuelta a España by 41 seconds ahead of Spaniard Ezequiel Mosquera on Sunday in Madrid. Spain's Contador had time to watch the three-week race as he has not raced himself since winning his third Tour de France on July 25.

Contador faced 25-year-old Nibali at the Tour de France last year. He won the race and Nibali finished 7'35" back in seventh.

"Vincenzo has a lot of talent and is certainly a candidate to fight for the yellow jersey next year. It's no fluke that already last year he finished seventh after he was always there near me and Andy Schleck in the high mountain stages," Contador said.

"He is very young, two years younger than me, and he is growing consistently and he certainly will be a dangerous rival."

Contador is the only Spaniard to win all three Grand Tours: the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. Next year, he will face his rival likely in the French or Spanish Grand Tour, but it will be in new team colours. Last month, he agreed two a two-year contract, 2011 and 2012, with Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team.

"Next year I will race two Grand Tours, probably the Tour and the Vuelta. I always like to fight for the wins in the races I participate in, and for this reason it is impossible to always race," continued Contador.

He is "very excited" about his new team and added that "today [Monday] we had another meeting," because "there are still many things to decide, like new riders."

Nibali has yet to define next year's schedule with his Italian Liquigas team. The team won the Vuelta a España with Nibali, but also won the Giro d'Italia in May with Ivan Basso and was the only team to finish all three Grand Tours with all nine riders.

Basso explained yesterday that if Nibali is in a winning position he will have no problem helping his team-mate.

"Vincenzo is the future of Italian cycling, and I am a fan of his," Basso told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "If I can, I will help him."

Basso's season has ended, but Nibali leaves today at 15:30 from Milan's Malpensa airport with the Italian national team. He will help the team try to win the World Championships on October 3 in Geelong, Australia.

Related links

Nibali wins 2010 Vuelta as Farrar takes final stage

Alberto Contador: Rider Profile

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.