Nibali considers Giro-Tour double next year
Vincenzo Nibali may still have a week to go before sewing up the Tour de France title but already he is planning a double Grand Tour assault next year.
Should he arrive in Paris still in yellow, and seemingly only a crash or unexpected crisis can stop him doing that, the Italian would become only the sixth person to win all three Grand Tours.
He won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 and the Giro d`Italia last year.
Next year, though, he may well try to become the first person since compatriot Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Giro and Tour in the same year.
Having won the three previous uphill finishes, Nibali was beaten into second at Saturday`s summit in Risoul by Poland`s Rafal Majka.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider came sixth at May`s Giro and although he hasn`t been riding for an overall position - he`s 58th at 1hr 48min 40sec - as he came to the Tour to work for team leader Alberto Contador, who crashed out, his example has inspired Nibali.
"Seeing how Majka is going, this makes me think it`s possible to do both," said the Astana team leader.
"In the past I did both when I was very young (aged 23 in 2008 he was 11th at the Giro and 20th in the Tour).
"Now I have more physical maturity so the objective next year could be to go for success at the Giro and the Tour.
"I`ll have to see, and speak to the team, so let`s first think of finishing this season and when that`s the case, like every year we`ll start from zero and come up with new objectives.
"But it`s not impossible that next year I`ll go to the Giro and the Tour."
Nibali put more time into his overall rivals on Saturday`s 14th stage and now sits 4min 37sec ahead of 34-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.
He has yet to lose time to any of his rivals on any stage and has gained every time the stage finishes have gone up.
His dominance is perhaps in part due to reigning champion Chris Froome and two-time former winner Contador both crashing out of the race.
The owner of Contador`s Tinkoff-Saxo team, Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov, said the Spaniard would be in the leader`s yellow jersey if he was still in the race.
"And what if Froome was still there too? We all know the spirit in Tinkoff," said a bristling Nibali.
"I don`t want to take anything away from anyone. I had already taken a good bit of time (out of Contador - more than 2min 30sec) in an important stage (the cobbled fifth stage from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg).
"I know I`m in great shape, I came here to fight with the best.
"I sorry that Alberto isn`t here any more because he`s a great champion.
"We all know what`s happened these last days but this is cycling, there are crashes.
"It can happen to anyone."
He also said he`d beaten both Contador and Froome in previous races and doesn`t feel his expected victory would be diminished by their absences.
"Why would it be diminished? Last year I won almost every race I did even when there was Froome or Contador.
"The only one where I wasn`t there was the Tour. I`ve got here in great form so why should it be diminished?
"I have had a great season, I don`t think I`m behind these two great riders.
"Last year I won the Giro and I was second in the Vuelta so why couldn`t I beat them?"
In March 2013, Nibali won the prestigious week-long Tirreno-Adriatico stage race with Froome second and Contador third.
But the Italian was only seventh the previous month in the less highly-rated Tour of Oman, when Froome won and Contador was second.
In 2012 Nibali was third behind Bradley Wiggins and Froome at the Tour while in 2011 he was promoted to second at the Giro after Contador was stripped of his victory for doping.