Vincenzo Nibali sets Classics aside as he makes Giro d'Italia primary target for 2019

Italian will probably not defend his Milan-San Remo title and ruled out a return to the Tour of Flanders as he plans a Giro/Tour double

Vincenzo Nibali and eventual race winner Niki Terpstra during the 2018 Tour of Flanders. Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Vincenzo Nibali says the Giro d'Italia will be his primary goal for 2019, with a reduced Classics season ahead of the Italian Grand Tour, which he'll follow up with a ride at the Tour de France.

With two Giro victories already on his palmarès, the 34-year-old Italian will focus on a third maglia rosa in 2019.

“The first goal is the Giro d’Italia and afterwards I will train for the Tour de France,” Nibali told Cycling Weekly. “I have never said I am going to win the Tour and the Giro, but if I do it will be better!

"I know the [Giro] route but of course I will go and see the course more deeply, some stages are new, there is one near Turin and there is a new climb so I will go to see it."

Vincenzo Nibali on Alpe d'Huez during the 2018 Tour de France (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

With seven summit finishes this year's race could well suit Nibali, though he is bound to meet stiff challenges from the likes of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Team Sky's Colombian sensation Egan Bernal.

One of only seven riders in the sport’s history to have won all three Grand Tours, a relaxed Nibali was speaking at a Bahrain-Merida team training camp in Catalunya, and justified his attendance in France this July.

“Usually I have two Grand Tours every year. I am not obliged to, but for a rider with my characteristics Grand Tours are the best things to do. What do I do from August to October, I have to find something to do,” he joked.

Nibali’s record in three week races is exemplary. He raced his first in 2007, finishing 19th at the Giro and has competed in two each in nine of the ensuing years.

Highlights of his 12 Grand Tour top-10 finishes are victory at the 2010 Vuelta, which he followed with the Giro success in both 2013 and '16, and the Tour de France in 2014.

However, after winning Milan-San Remo last year, his 2018 season was derailed when he crashed after colliding with an errant fan on the Alpe d’Huez stage of the the Tour. Though he managed to remount and finish the day in seventh place, a broken vertebra meant he was forced to abandon the race, the injury blighting the rest of the year.

“Last year was a good season without the crash, it ruined the season,” Nibali continued. “I was very good in the Tour de France, I was very motivated, my position in GC was very nice, there were many stages ahead that were good for me.

“When I spoke to the police on Alpe d’Huez they explained that many people were very, very drunk, it’s a big party. They said they probably need more policemen, but it is very difficult, it is the same for Zoncolan you know, it is very, very difficult to control the race.

“On the Tour Down Under we saw people people almost hitting riders in the sprint with their telephone trying to get the selfie, it is very dangerous, but it happens in the Tour the Vuelta and the Giro.”

After winning the race last season, Nibali’s focus on the 2019 Giro means he is unlikely to target a second success at Milan-San Remo, and though he rode the Tour of Flanders last year he ruled out a repeat.

Instead his final preparation for the Giro will consist of the Tour of the Alps and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, though he expects his effort in the Ardennes to be compromised by his Giro preparation.

“I look forward to going to Liège and doing well, the problem is that if you are focusing on the Giro you have to be ready later. I will prepare at altitude and race Trentino [Tour of the Alps] and Liège.

“But I have one target and that is the Giro d’Italia.”

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