Vincenzo Nibali, guest of the week at Cafe Roubaix
In 2014, Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win cycling’s greatest race in 16 years, thanks a masterful display in the three-week Tour de France. After scoring a victory in Sheffield with a late attack, he went on to put minutes into his rivals during the gruesome stage five, which took the peloton over the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones. Then, the rider of Astana got three more stage wins, all on mountain top finishes, equalling the feat of Fausto Coppi, Joop Zoetemelk and Laurent Fignon.
That triumph made him only the sixth man to win all of cycling’s Grand Tours and carve his place in history as one of the best ever riders. Now in his 30’s, Vincenzo Nibali is preparing to defend his Tour de France title this season, knowing that things will be even more difficult than last year. After beginning his season in the Dubai Tour, a race which was shortly followed by the Tour of Oman, the Italian is now ready for his first important appointment of the year: the 50th running of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Although he has a very busy agenda, Nibali said yes last week when contacted by Cafe Roubaix for an interview, which you can read in the following.
– Vincenzo, last year you won the only Grand Tour that was missing from your palmares. What do you recall from that experience?
It was an incredible adventure. To win the most important race in the world made me live one of the best moments of my life, a very emotional one.
– Which was the most important stage for you?
It wasn’t one of the four stages I won, but the cobbled one, in the fifth day of the race. Besides the gap that I created between me and my rivals, it showed me that I have all it takes to go home with the yellow jersey.
– What impact do you believe your win will have in Italy? Will it bring more sponsors and children to the sport?
The economic climate isn’t a proper one at the moment in my country, and the same goes for other countries, so it will be very difficult to convince sponsors to get involved. When it comes to young riders, I’ve started for some time many projects which aim to help them develop.
– Your 2015 season began in the Middle East. Are you satisfied with the way things went there for you?
Yes, I’m happy of these first races. The Dubai Tour and the Tour of Oman were very useful for my preparation, to regain my trust after such a long period off the bike and to get used again with the race conditions and hard pace.
– What are your thoughts before Tirreno-Adriatico?
I always start a race with the desire to give all that I have, so let’s hope it will be enough. The Monte Terminillo stage will be tough, but not decisive. There’s also stage four, which has a rolling terrain, with some interesting climbs and descents, that will give the riders plenty of opportunities to attack.
– Who will be your main rivals?
Without any doubt, Chris Froome (ed. – in the meantime, Froome has withdrawn because of health problems) and Alberto Contador, but although they had a previous encounter in a hard-fought Ruta del Sol, I don’t think they’ll have an upper hand on me.
– After Tirreno-Adriatico, you’ll race the Classics. Which would you like to win?
If I have to choose just one, then it has to be Liège–Bastogne–Liège. After this, my second favorite Spring Classic is Amstel Gold Race.