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 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.”

>> Save up to 35% with a magazine subscription. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

>>>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

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.

>>> How fast did Alberto Contador scale the Passo di Mortirolo?

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.”