Since his first Critérium du Dauphiné in 2006, Vincenzo Nibali has returned to the French race every year that he hasn’t competed in the Tour of Italy, and placed 7th in 2014, which was also the year he won the Tour de France. He briefly took the overall lead following a legendary stage that finished at Villard-de-Lans in 2015 before ceding the leader’s jersey to Tejay van Garderen the next day. The Italian superstar has never won a stage in five appearances.
In early May, he and his Bahrain-Merida team mates began specific training for the team time trial between Pont-de-Vaux and Louhans on June 6. However, it will most likely be in the mountains that he could find himself in a first duel with Romain Bardet. Before leaving the Canary Islands at the end of a fortnight of high-altitude training on the Teide volcano, he briefly answered a few questions.
Vincenzo Nibali, what did you do during the month of May?
“I have spent the last two weeks at the Teide volcano to lay the groundwork of my mountain training for the Tour de France. I am heading to Italy before returning, with pleasure, to the Dauphiné.”
Why have you chosen to return to the Dauphiné after a two-year absence to go to the Giro (winner in 2016, 2nd in 2017)?
“I am convinced that the Dauphiné is the race best suited to gradually get ready for the Tour de France, which I have made my main objective this year. I especially remember that it is always a difficult race with a lot of mountains and very good riders.”
Are you coming to win it this time?
“I am coming to ride a good race, but to win it will be very hard. I would like to get a good result on a few of the stages, but my main objective is to prepare for the Tour.”
What importance do you attach to the reconnaissance of the Rosière stage, in anticipation of the Tour?
“It is very important. In today’s cycling, we don’t overlook anything when preparing for a race as prestigious as the Tour de France. In April, I rode the Roubaix stage. To see it and know it provides a certain advantage.”