Nibali is one of only six cyclists who have won three Grand Tours and he is just 30 years old. He won the 2010 Vuelta a España, the 2013 Giro d’Italia and this year’s Tour de France.
Nibali was born in Messina, Sicily on 14th November 1984. His boyhood idol was Marco Pantani, a fellow Italian, who won the Giro and the Tour in 1998. Pantani’s career was constantly being threatened by a series of doping accusations and bans. Sadly, Pantani died of a drug overdose in 2004. Nibali says of Pantani, “It’s true that my hero was Marco Pantani.” Nibali was only 13 when Pantani was first accused of doping and was obviously too young to understand the implications of the doping scandal. Nibali said, “I was only interested in having fun which meant cycling with my cousins and friends. Everyone wore the bandana like Pantani. Everyone wore his yellow shoes and kit.” At the age of 16, Nibali left Sicily to live in Tuscany to try and make it as a cyclist. For ten months of the year, he trained hard with his coach Carlo Franceschi in Mastromarco. His first big success was in 2002 when he finished third in the Junior World Time Trial Championship. On the personal side, Nibali is happily married with a baby daughter.
In 2005 Nibali turned professional and has gone from strength to strength, winning races all over the world. In 2013, he signed a two year contract with Kazakhstan Astana, where it is thought he is receiving €3 million a year.
TEAM ASTANA AND FAILED DOPING TESTS
On Tuesday 26th November 2014, it was revealed that a fifth rider who is associated with Nibali’s Astana team has failed a doping test. Artur Fedosseyev was found to have been using anabolic steroids in August of this year, while competing in the Tour de l’Ain. It was only the week before that Victor Okishev failed a doping test from samples taken in May, while he was competing in the Asian Cycling Championships. Both of these cyclists race for Astana Continental which is a third division team and therefore have nothing to do with Nibali’s elite team. However, these five doping incidents have cast doubt on the eligibility of Astana to hold a World Tour licence. Nibali thinks that Astana will be granted a World Tour licence in spite of the drug doping results as the riders involved are not from his team but from a satellite team. When asked whether he felt his reputation was under threat by association, Nibali said, “No, I’m just surprised. Today we have a biological passport, regular doping control, race controls. If you are doping you will be caught. Even if the technique of doping can be advanced, you will still be caught in another four years. It makes me laugh. Risking cheating today is for stupid people.” Remember to wear your reflective cycling vest or reflective vest wherever you are cycling.