Vincenzo Nibali brushed aside reports that he and team Astana are at breaking point after rumours that the team’s general manager Alexandre Vinokourov sent him a message regarding his performance. However, the Italian said that Vinokourov wants him to think about winning the Tour de France and not the team’s lack of results.
“The story’s not true,” Nibali told Cycling Weekly. “Vino wrote to the team, not me personally, and told us to try to work together and focus on reaching our goals because Astana is one of the big and important teams.”
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reported it differently. It wrote on Friday that Vinokourov sent Nibali an e-mail personally to express his concern.
“We want big results,” the e-mail reportedly read. “We don’t want excuses, ifs and buts. We are not interested in reasons, but results. Up until now, we have not seen them. Like this, things aren’t going well for us.”
Nibali called the article “crazy.” “It’s not true. Vino said to me, ‘Stay calm. Our goal is the Tour de France. We have to do the best there.'”
An article in the next day’s newspaper said that Nibali is about ready to jump ship. It linked him to teams Cannondale and Trek for 2015. To do so, he would have to break his contract, reported at nearly €4m annually, which runs through 2016.
“Leaving for 2015 or 2016? No. No. For sure, no,” he said. “There are teams that are interested, for sure, but there’s nothing. I signed again last year, renewing my contract for two years.”
Nibali joined the Kazakh team from Cannondale, formally Liquigas, ahead of last year. In the 2013 season, he won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro del Trentino en route to the Giro d’Italia title. He continued later in the season and placed second in the Vuelta a España.
He has been active in many races this year, but his best result so far has been a fifth overall in the Tour of Romandie. His Tour de France rivals have been more successful. Alberto Contador won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country, and Froome the Tour of Oman and Romandy.
“I’m not worried. I also had a quiet start two years ago [before placing third in the Tour]. I’ve worked hard, I’ve trained at altitude, and the goal remains the Tour in July.”