Vincenzo Nibali slams critics of his Tour de France performance

The Italian says he's 'not a robot' and can't be expected to compete with those specifically targeting the Tour overall

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Italian champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) says that critics should take the entire 2016 season into consideration before commenting on his Tour de France performance over the last three weeks.

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Nibali won the Giro d'Italia and began the Tour to help Fabio Aru in the overall classification. He finished the Tour 1 hour, 19-59 minutes behind winner Chris Froome (Sky) in 30th place, his lowest ever Grand Tour placing.

"I'm not a robot," Nibali told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Everyone always expects the best from Vincenzo. It's normal, I understand."

The Italian won the Vuelta a España in 2010 and the Tour de France in 2014. This May, he won his second Giro title with a comeback performance in the last week to overhaul Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

This winter, he said he was aiming at the Giro d'Italia overall and the Olympic road race, August 6 in Rio de Janeiro.

"Many fans said that I went to the Tour for the classification, but that was never the case. For that reason, I find it exaggerated when people talk of a 'flop' after I sat up in the Massif Central," Nibali said.

"When I arrived for the race in France, I spoke clearly about what plans I had. We've been saying so since the winter.

"Yes, OK, a rider like me always has the desire to try in the classification, but when your body does not respond, you also need to know how to manage and dose out your efforts well with an eye on the most important goals."

Nibali attacked and tried to win the last mountain stage to Morzine when he heard that Aru was not going well. Instead, Ion Izaguirre (Movistar) escaped him and won.

In Rio, he will lead the Italian team with Aru, Diego Rosa (Astana), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing).

Given his one-day race palmarès – Il Lombardia winner, second Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third in Milan-San Remo – he has a good chance.

"It won't be easy, but given that course and the team we have, we can do very well," he added. "And given my age, I think it'll be my last chance."

He considers his biggest rivals Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), and Portugal's Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).

Even without a gold medal, Nibali would consider the 2016 season a success.

"I'd like to add that I had a great early season," he said. "I won in February in Oman, I went strongly in March at Tirreno-Adriatico, I won the Giro. I was always concentrated. In the winter, I didn't take one day of vacation. I'll repeat, I'm not a robot."

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