Vincenzo Nibali: Don't punish Astana for individual dopers

The Italian 2014 Tour de France winner says that riders who cheat "should pay a lot"

Vincenzo Nibali in the 2015 Liege-Bastogne-Liege
(Image credit: Watson)

Vincenzo Nibali is looking to put Astana's stormy recent history behind him as he approaches the defence of his Tour de France title.

The 30-year-old, who won the 2014 edition of the Tour by more than seven minutes from Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, said that the doping scandals which engulfed his team last year was "something I am not responsible for."

>>>Nibali: Astana criticisms more about politics than cycling

Speaking to CNN, Nibali said: "Each of us is responsible for our own actions. No doubt Astana does all it can to try to be fair, especially with its racers.

"However, nobody can guarantee that a rider who is motivated to disrupt the system doesn't do it."

Nibali also said that he "never thought" about leaving Astana - with whom he is contracted until 2016.

"The only reason why this [would] happen is if we [didn't] get the licence and the team was to shut down. In that case, yes, I would have thought about another solution."

The Italian has had a quiet start to the season, his best result so far a 10th place finish in the Tour de Romandie behind both Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana.

Strade Bianche

Nibali at the 2015 Strade Bianche
(Image credit: Watson)

In contrast, Quintana has already won the Tirreno-Adriatico and has not finished outside the top eight in a stage race in 2015, while Froome triumphed at the Ruta del Sol before suffering a chest infection which took its toll in the Volta a Catalunya.

Alberto Contador, meanwhile, has looked as impressive as Quintana, if not more so, and looks well on track to win the Giro d'Italia after a dominant display up the Mortirolo on stage 16.

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With last year's Tour triumph in the bag, though, Nibali - who along with Froome and Quintana has skipped the Giro this year - is confident in his ability to stay competitive once this year's race comes around.

"It's harder to try to get on top," he said. "Once I'm on top level, I can hold my form and it's much easier to try to make it last as long as possible."