Vincenzo Nibali officialised his participation to the 73rd edition of La Vuelta after he got the green light from the doctors following his crash up to l’Alpe d’Huez that forced him to pull out of the Tour de France with a broken vertebrae after stage 12. The Italian will have the bib number 1 on the start list at the beginning of the Spanish Grand Tour in Málaga on August 25th.
Four winners of La Vuelta will be in contention again this year: Alejandro Valverde (2009), Vincenzo Nibali (2010), Fabio Aru (2015) and Nairo Quintana (2016). Among them, the race organization designated « El Tiburón » (The Shark, in Spanish) as the first man on the starting list with the bib number 1. It’s a mark of gratitude to his record book that includes the three Grand Tours (La Vuelta 2010, Giro d’Italia 2013 and 2016, Tour de France 2014) but also Il Lombardia (2015 and 2017) and Milan-Sanremo (2018).
“A successful La Vuelta for me would mean being a protagonist in some nice stages, Nibali informed. As I’m still in a recovery process, it’s hard for me to think of the overall classification with so few days of training behind me”. After his first withdrawal in the nineteen Grand Tours he started, he resumed riding sixteen days before the start in Andalusia. His Bahrain-Merida team has other cards to play on GC with the brothers Ion and Gorka Izagirre. “Ideally, for me personally, I’d love to win several stages in the last week of racing”, Nibali added.
“I’ve always enjoyed racing in Spain, the Sicilian continued. The courses are beautiful and I feel less pressure at La Vuelta than at the Giro and the Tour. The rhythm of a day in Spain reminds me of the south of Italy. Of course my best memory remains my overall win in 2010, the first Grand Tour I won. It’s been a milestone in my career”.
Nibali was the first ever winner of La Vuelta crowned in Madrid with the red jersey (La Roja) that has become the trademark of the Spanish race. “Very few riders in activity have a record book as brilliant as his”, noted Javier Guillén, the general director of the event. “It’s a luxury to have Nibali in contention once again. In addition to having won it, he showed his commitment to the race last year by doing his best to climb on the second step of the final podium [as in 2013]. He’s an elegant rider, combative and charismatic. He deserves the bib number 1.”
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