Italian Vincenzo Nibali is fighting to return to racing after being kicked out of the Vuelta a España for holding on to the team car too long. Nibali wants to race already this Sunday in the GP Ouest France-Plouay, but it may not happen.
The Vuelta a España organiser, Unipublic and the race jury sent Nibali home on Sunday only after two days racing. The 2010 race winner, and winner of the 2013 Giro d’Italia and 2014 Tour de France, took a long pull from the team car as he chased back from a crash.
“I want to turn the page, enough is enough!” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper this morning.
“I want to return right away and race, maybe I could already do so this Sunday in Plouay.”
Nibali crashed with around 20 others at 30 kilometres to race in stage two. As he tried to rejoin, his Astana team car drove along side and he grabbed the car door. The two sped away from the chase group for at least nine seconds.
The television footage immediately made its way around the internet. The jury took action, following rule 12.1.040.18, and sent Nibali back to Italy.
Cycling’s governing body may have to OK his return since he was just booted from one race and wants to race another, but he should have the green light.
The Astana team may have other plans. It could send Nibali to Canada to race the Tour of Alberta and the one-day races in Québec and Montréal, or it could ask him to rest for 2016.
“The most logical thing would be to send him to Canada, some of the races to build up to the Giro di Lombardia,” team trainer, Paolo Slongo told Cycling Weekly.
“This is the first hypothesis. The other one is that he closes his season, may start up early next year. He came to the Vuelta in good form, but it’s more about his head now. If he doesn’t have the head to continue then it’s going to be hard for him to do so.”
Team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli refused to talk about Nibali for the past two days at the race. Tension appears high in the team after a year of problems, from the team’s doping cases to Nibali’s lack of results.
“The team? They can talk, but in the team, there are not big problems,” said Slongo.
Nibali is training now at home. He may visit his brother and team-mate Michele Scarponi at altitude in Livigno, Italy. Slongo added, “but just to relax and have some fun, not for serious training.”