“The Shark of Messina”. Can we find a better nickname in the current peloton and more widely in the nascent 21st century? Everyone will have their own answer to this question, as many as possible to the question of whether Vincenzo Nibali is the most outstanding runner of the past decade. On the other hand, you will find few people to contradict you if you celebrate the class and panache of the Sicilian. His island, the Giro has been visiting him since Tuesday, via Etna, and this Wednesday he will arrive in Messina, precisely at the home of the “last Italian champion”.
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Don’t talk to Nibali about retirement yet. Unlike his contemporary Philippe Gilbert, the man with two Giros (2013 and 2016) has not announced the end of his career even if on the side of La Botte, we are told that this Tour of Italy could well be his last. . On this side of the Alps, we will content ourselves with noting that this is probably the last time that Nibali will compete in a stage of his national tour on his native island, the man from Messina, this city to which he is eternally linked.
On Wednesday, Nibali will be on his childhood roads
On Wednesday, there will probably only be him in the peloton to think about it, but the end of the stage will be next to Cesare Battisti street in Messina where the family stationery is located, in which he sharpened his knowledge of the history of cycling. by engulfing hours of images of the exploits of Francesco Moser, in particular those of 1984 when he had made fun of Laurent Fignon on the Giro. For Ciro Scognamiglio, cycling journalist at Gazzetta dello Sport, Moser and Nibali are the two Italian champions of the post-Gimondi era, winner of three Grand Tours between 1965 and 1976.
Nibali: “For an Italian rider, wearing the pink jersey is fulfilling a childhood dream”
So, “Campionissimo” Vincenzo Nibali? On the other side of the Alps, this “grade” is the highest in cycling symbolism. “Coppi and Bartali remain legendaryqualifies our interlocutor. I wouldn’t say campionissimo for Nibali because that nickname was first given to Girardengo and then Coppi, but he’s a champion, no doubt about it. Coppi, Bartali or Girardengo went beyond sport.“
The 2014 Tour, a victory that changes everything
“Perhaps he is not on the same level as Coppi and Bartali, or Marco Pantani who remains the most beloved of Italianscontinues Luca Stamerra, our colleague from Eurosport Italy. Nibali, however, is just below in the ranking of the most beloved riders by fans. We are talking about the only Italian rider to have managed to win a Tour de France in the last 20 years. He is the last Italian champion.”
Vincenzo Nibali on the podium of the Tour de France 2014
Credit: Getty Images
The Grande Boucle precisely. According to our Italian specialists, his success in 2014 changed everything for Nibali. If some in the Boot point to a victory acquired thanks to the abandonment of Froome or Contador, others celebrated it as it should. The day after his coronation in front of Péraud and Pinot, the Gazzetta was adorned with yellow, abandoning the usual pink, in a special edition. “Cycling fans but also sports fans in general know Vincenzo Nibaliteaches us Luca Stamerra. To have won the Tour de France means a lot. It’s not the same as winning a Giro or a Vuelta.”
But Nibali isn’t just about the big laps and that’s also why he marked his time so much. If he triumphed twice in the Tour of Lombardy (2015 and 2017), it is his number on Milan-Sanremo 2018 which best symbolizes him. Because he always wanted to win the best races and because his tactical sense surprised a pack of sprinters there. An “iconic” victory for Ciro Scognamiglio, our colleague from the Gazzetta.
Coming to the Giro to help Miguel Angel Lopez, Nibali saw the leader of Astana throw in the towel on Tuesday… and his own ambitions shattered after his disappointment on Etna. “It may be his last Giro and he would gladly exchange a 6th or 7th place overall for two good stages“, advanced Luca Stamerra before the 4th stage. Without a solution in the general, Nibali has only one feat left to inspire the island youth who will come to celebrate this Wednesday in Messina and elsewhere in Sicily?
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