According to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Vincenzo Nibali will ride the Tour de France instead of the Giro d’Italia. Now, La Gazzetta Dello Sport is also Italian for “unsubstantiated rumor” but we’ll take it as fact.
Nibali decided he’d rather race a potentially Giro-weary Chris Froome in the Tour then take on Froome at the Giro when the Briton is fresh and deadly.
That seems like a wise decision, given that Nibali would like to take advantage of the Froome Giro-Tour double foolishness to boost his own chances of winning a second Tour de France crown. Sharks aren’t known for their intelligence but this is a no-brainer.
He’ll also get Froome on some of his preferred territory, with stage 9 serving up 27.1 kilometers of pavé between Arras and Roubaix. He’ll be hoping that Froome has the same bad luck when Nibali won the first time in 2014, as the Sky captain crashed several times before abandoning on the cobblestone stage. Some Tour wins are built on a superior time trial or exceptional climbing skills but Nibali’s Tour victory came largely thanks to his bike handling skills on the stones.
The mere thought that Froome might come into the Tour just a tiny bit tired must fill Nibali’s heart with joy. In the 2017 Tour, the Italian spent most of his time following Froome’s rear wheel over the Alps and Pyrenees, only occasionally offering up a short attack that was quickly smacked down. Take a few watts off Froome’s power meter and the Shark’s attack will certainly have a sharper bite.
While some observes are disappointed that we might see Froome at less than 100% at Le Grand Shindig, we’re praying for just that scenario. The French grand tour has lacked any real GC excitement for a number of years thanks to Sky’s dominance in budget, team strength and resources.
Sky will have plenty of recovery resources to throw at the fatigue problem, once Froome finishes the Giro. He’ll have an extra week to recuperate and the confidence that comes from pulling off the Tour-Vuelta double last season. Still, it’s a big ask and one based on hubris and greed, in the opinion of cyclingtips.
Which, when you think of it that way, means we can probably ascribe Nibali’s decision to ride the Tour over the Giro as based on intelligence and opportunism. Shark ain’t no fool.