Italian Grand Tour star Vincenzo Nibali will leave Bahrain-Merida for Trek-Segafredo in 2020, sources confirmed to Cycling Weekly.
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Sources explained the 34-year-old Sicilian will take his talents, as well as his close circle, to the US-registered team with the Italian coffee sponsor Segafredo.
Younger brother Antonio Nibali will switch teams to race with Trek-Segafredo, too. Also, his doctor Emilio Magni, trainer Paolo Slongo and masseur Michele Pallini will make the switch.
One source said the Trek-Segafredo/Nibali contract will be for two years and Nibali should earn around €3 million a year.
Astana tried to convince Nibali to return to their team, where he raced from 2013 to 2016. With the team, he won the Tour and the Giro twice.
Nibali instead heads to Trek-Segafredo, which hired Richie Porte at the beginning of 2019.
General manager Luca Guercilena and Segafredo boss Massimo Zanetti made a serious push for him this winter. The team courted him at the end of the 2016 season, before he moved from Astana to help Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa start Bahrain-Merida.
The prince and several major Bahraini companies back the WorldTour team. But changes are happening in 2019.
British motorsport giant McLaren joined as a 50 per cent partner. The team brought in Rohan Dennis and signed a deal with Sky coach Rod Ellingworth.
Basque rider Mikel Landa is rumoured to join Bahrain, leaving Movistar, for 2020.
The next two years could likely be Nibali’s last. He won all three Grand Tours – the 2014 Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia in 2013 and 2016, and the 2010 Vuelta a España. His palmarès also includes victories in Il Lombardia and Milan-San Remo.
Next on Nibali’s radar is the 2019 Giro d’Italia with Bahrain-Merida and supported by Trek-Segafredo, the 2020 Olympics and World Championships.
He is currently racing at the Tour of the Alps, but has not commented on his future plans. When last asked in February, Nibali said, “I don’t want to talk about this now.”
Trek-Segafredo’s manager Luca Guercilena could not be reached for comment before this article was published.
Bahrain-Merida’s manager Brent Copeland said: “We are waiting to hear back from him and his agent, we have had talks about renewing, but cannot confirm anything yet. We first must wait on Nibali to decide if we need to hire other GC rider.”
Under UCI governing body rules, teams and riders cannot sign contracts before August 1 for the following year. However, often deals are made beforehand and confirmed later – which appears to be the case for Nibali.