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by Shane Stokes
January 6, 2018
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Bahrain-Merida leader Vincenzo Nibali will get the 2018 season underway in the Vuelta a San Juan, and believes that it should set him up for a strong year. “Debuting in the Vuelta a San Juan has become a tradition because it brings me luck for the rest of the season,” he explained.
“Like we’ve done in other years, we will get there a few days early, to have a quick training camp far from the European cold. It will be the first race of the year, so I won’t be in the best shape, but I’d like to at least win one stage.”
Nibali finished eighth overall last year. He was 14th in 2016 and 44th in 2014, the year he went on to win the Tour de France. He prioritised the Giro and Vuelta last year, netting third and second respectively, but wants to return to the French Grand Tour in 2018. Following that up with the Spanish event is possible.
“I am a major stage race rider, so of course I am going to go for them,” he says. “However, I’ll admit that I would also like to contend for the Spring Classics, especially Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and in the season finale the World Championships, because there is a hard route that could suit my skills. It will be another goal for me.”
Nibali has won four Grand Tours, but might well have a fifth to his credit. He was runner-up to Chris Froome in the Vuelta, but the Team Sky rider had an adverse analytical finding for salbutamol. A urine sample taken during the race showed double the permitted level of the substance, meaning a loss of the race title and a ban from racing are both very possible.