Italian star Vincenzo Nibali is considering a 2020 team switch, possibly closing out his career with Trek-Segafredo.
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Nibali is meeting with the team and their Italian coffee sponsor Segafredo on Monday to discus a two-year contract through 2021. Nibali, 34, will also meet with his current team Bahrain-Merida in the evening about extending his current contract beyond 2019.
Nibali, winner of all three Grand Tours and Monuments Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia, helped start Bahrain-Merida in 2017. However, waters became rough when only a one-year contract extension was offered, through 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics.
"It's not that he's not unhappy with the 2020 offer we made," general manager Brent Copeland told Cycling Weekly.
"His original request was to race until Tokyo 2020. We made an offer for 2020 which he seemed happy about. Then he came back after a couple of months saying he'd like to race though another year, 2021."
Since, the team has since partnered with British Formula One group McLaren.
"That was at the time we were negotiating with McLaren, so it wasn't easy to negotiate with him until we closed up the McLaren deal," continued Copeland.
"We had to close up the McLaren deal first before going ahead with negotiations with Vincenzo. That's why it's starting again now with his agent today. Obviously with McLaren being 50 per cent partners in the deal now they have to be involved in all negotiations."
Nibali won the Tour de France in 2014, the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and 2016, and the Vuelta a España in 2010. He is one of cycling's most complete Grand Tour stars with a palmarès that includes Il Lombardia twice in 2015 and 2017, and Milan-San Remo last spring with a solo attack from the Poggio climb.
A chance bike ride with the prince of Bahrain, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, helped form the team for the 2017 season. Nibali left Astana and signed a three-year deal earning around €3 to €3.5 million, which takes him through the 2019 season.
Massimo Zanetti, boss at the Italian coffee giant Segafredo, already wanted Nibali in his team at that time. With the window open again, Segafredo is pushing to get its home star in the team.
The US registered team Trek-Segafredo hired Australian Richie Porte over the off-season to lead their Grand Tour charge. They signed 33-year-old Porte on a two-year deal through 2020.
Trek-Segafredo need to confirm further sponsorship funding for the future, with current deals only running through 2020.
"It would obviously be nice to have him close his career with us," Copeland added. "He's been with the team since it started, he was one of the most important points of the team starting up when he met with prince Nasser, but that's his decision. We can only offer the best we can and he has to decide."
Nibali has also been linked to UAE Team Emirates for 2020. Any decision is likely to happen before he lines up in the 2019 Giro d'Italia, starting 11 May.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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