Alberto Contador backs Vincenzo Nibali for 2016 Giro d'Italia but won't compete himself

Alberto Contador admits he will not defend his Giro d'Italia title in 2016 but says the route perfectly suits Astana's Vincenzo Nibali

Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan at the Giro d'Italia presentation (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The 2016 Giro d'Italia will end in the high mountains of the country's north, but it is not just a feather-weight climber who can win the race overall – it is one who can manage his strength over three weeks and 3383 kilometres, according to race organisers.

RCS Sport include three time trials, stages in the Netherlands that are open to wind and tricky mid-mountain days over the course of the 21 stages and race director Mauro Vegni admits it's not a route to take lightly.

"Alberto Contador said he's not racing because he wants to end his career at the Tour, to try to win again, and for sure, if he wants to do that, this is not the Giro to try a double," he said.

"You have to race every stage, there is none where you can ease up, that's going to burn up many legs. You'll pay."

Out of the four Grand Tour "big names" only 2013 winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is due to race the Giro next May. Sky's Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) are likely to focus solely on the Tour de France.

"Of course it bothers me, I'd like to have them, but that's the pull of Tour. I hope that I've given many of them, and others, an alternative because only one will win the Tour.

"[We must pay] attention to Mikel Landa, with Sky next year, who worked completely for Nibali in Lombardia [on Sunday]. He's young, he's going very strong, and he's a few months younger than Fabio Aru. He needs to be watched. He already showed at the Giro this year that he's strong.

"Richie Porte? I hope so for him. He left the race early this year and didn't deserve to do so. I hope with a new team he'll have a new push and erase what happened this year."

>>> These three Giro d’Italia 2016 stages look particularly brutal

Nibali drew the most attention in the post-presentation scrum. He did not say “yes,” but nearly so when asked if he would attend the 2016 Giro.

"You need a complete rider, there are long time trails, a mountain time trials, high mountain stages and flat stages that shouldn't be undervalued. You have to watch out for any dangers like the one we saw with the winds in the Tour's second stage this year," Nibali explained.

"Clearly, after going without the Giro for two years, I'm thinking about it. It's a beautiful and particular course, you need to manage it from the start to the end, plus there are truly some tough mountain stages."

Contador confirmed that he would not defend his title, despite liking the look of the route, but backed one of his rivals for the win.

"It'll be hard to watch it on TV this year," he said.

"If I want to go to the Tour to win, I think that it's better not to go to the Giro. It's going to be hard with three time trials and high mountains that in May will be cold even more difficult to manage. For Nibali, it's perfect."

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