When Vincenzo Nibali threatened to skip the Giro d’Italia as retaliation for the cancellation of mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, we thought it was a mistake.
We assumed that it was Astana team boss Alexandre Vinokourov pulling his usual heavy handed-old school soviet threats and not his star rider Nibali. It just didn’t sound like Mr. Tanquillo to get so upset about the application of the Extreme Weather Protocol.
Did Vino put him up to this? We’re guessing not and with Nibali more than likely on his last year at Astana, it seemed unlikely he’d act as Vino’s mouthpiece. But this is pro cycling and anything can and does happen.
Matt Brammeier (Dimension Data) went after what he considered Nibble’s short-sightedness and self centeredness buy nailing him on twitter. He called the Shark a “narrow-minded moron,” which was quite an insult considering the stature of Nibali as a winner of all three grand tours.
Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) backed up Brammeier’s assessment, calling the Irishman a “legend” and saying he couldn’t have said it any better.
There was the usual Italia aria about lawyers and reputations and legal action and damages and then the fire went out. We figure Nibali will have this boys chase down any breakaway with Brammeier in it for the rest of the season but other than that, we don’t expect much fireworks.
What did go boom was a piece of Nibali’s reputation. Evan a junior public relations intern would have told Nibali how badly his pissy comments about the Extreme Weather Protocol would come across to the cycling public. It seemed out of character for Nibali and in character for Vino.
Then again Nibali has had his moments of controversy. In stage 19 of the 2015 Tour de France, Nibali incurred to verbal abuse of Chris Froome when he attacked the yellow jersey as Froome dealt with a rear wheel issue.
At the time Nibali said, “I could have stood there and argued, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. Many times, these things happen to me too. That’s cycling.”
Yup, that’s cycling. The organizers of Tirreno-Adriatico cancelled stage five because of snow at the finishing clim up to Monte San Vicino. You can argue about plan B’s and weather interpretations but all the stakeholders — including the riders — made the right call. That’s cycling.
Hell, even Vino knows that.