It’s early in the year to be talking about next year’s contracts – the UCI bans any announcements of transfers until 1 August each year, meaning the rumour mill only really gets going ahead of the Tour de France – but already it seems that Vincenzo Nibali may be heading to Trek-Segafredo for what may well be the final two seasons of a stellar career.
The 34-year-old is one of just four cyclists – Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Felice Gimondi are the others – to have won all three Grand Tours and two or more Monuments during their career, and with one year left on his Bahrain-Merida contract is weighing up his options for 2020 and beyond.
According to Italian sports daily La Gazetta dello Sport the Sicilian, who last month indicated that 2021 may be his final year in the peloton, had a busy day in Milan yesterday – meeting Trek-Segafredo in the morning at Malpensa airport to the northwest of the Lombard capital, then with Bahrain-Merida in the city itself during the afternoon.
Nibali is reported to have been in discussions with Trek-Segafredo since October and is said to be attracted by the possibility of racing for a team backed by an Italian sponsor in the shape of global coffee giant Segafredo.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali and his agent Johnny Caraldo met in the morning with Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercelina, as well as Luca Baraldi, who oversees Segafredo’s sponsorship interests in cycling and basketball.
As is often the case in high-profile cycling transfers, any contract would not just concern the rider himself, but also his entourage, which in Nibali’s case would include his team-mate and brother Antonio, his long-time trainer Paolo Slongo and his physician Emilio Magni, among others.
The total cost which Trek-Segafredo is said to have agreed to is €4 million a year over the two-year period, according to the newspaper, with the US-based bike brand that is headline sponsor reportedly green-lighting the offer.
Meanwhile, Bahrain-Merida, which had previously offered Nibali a one-year extension to his existing three-year deal, is reported to have put a two-year offer on the table, with manager Brent Copeland saying the team is hopeful of retaining him and that further discussions will take place around the time of the team presentation on 21 February.
Nibali, who last year won Milan-San Remo, has said that he plans to ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this season, while his major targets for 2020 will be the Olympic road race in Tokyo and the UCI Road World Championship in Switzerland.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.