Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali confident he is peaking at right time
Italian not concerned by lack of results in race build-up
Last Updated: 04/07/15 6:54am
Vincenzo Nibali is confident he has once again timed his peak in form to perfection ahead of the defence of his Tour de France title.
The 30-year-old Italian performed poorly in the build-up to last year’s race but then dominated his rivals, winning four stages on the way to a 7min 37sec overall victory.
He has endured an equally subdued 2015 so far, finishing 10th at May’s Tour de Romandie and then only 12th at June’s Criterium du Dauphine, 4min 32sec down on winner and Tour rival Chris Froome.
But Nibali retained his Italian national road race title last weekend and believes he has the condition to win back the yellow jersey as well.
Speaking at his Astana team’s pre-race press conference, he said: "It was a difficult spring because I didn't have any wins and wasn't able to find the right conditions to win.
"But with my coach, Paolo Slongo, we managed to find the ideal preparation and training before the Tour, just like last year, and now we will see at the Tour.
"I'm pretty much in the same form as last year. I know there is a lot of expectation but there are a lot of other riders in contention who have won more than me this year, like Froome, who won the Dauphine, and [Alberto] Contador. But I am coming here in good form."
Nibali played down a war of words with Tour rival Nairo Quintana, which was triggered when he questioned the Movistar rider’s decision to prepare for the race in his native Colombia.
The remarks were seen as a thinly veiled suggestion that Quintana was trying to avoid being tested for doping, but Nibali insisted that was not the case.
He added: "My intention wasn't to discredit an important country like Colombia in questioning where Quintana was. It was just a simple, 'We don't know where Quintana is because we haven't seen him since Romandie'.
"It wasn't a controversy. I'm sorry if the question was taken the wrong way. For me he's one of the favourites, if not the absolute favourite."
Speaking about his own team Astana's doping problems, Nibali insisted he and his teammates had always remained calm throughout the year, despite the possibility of the Kazakh outfit's UCI WorldTour licence being revoked following a spate of failed drugs tests.
He said: "We had problems at the beginning of the year when the media spoke a lot and there were many rumours, but nothing ever happened. Our licence was in question but it was never revoked.
"We kept working serenely and with commitment, and we arrive at the Tour de France with the right motivation and the desire to do well, pedal hard and enjoy it."
Follow every stage of the Tour de France with our daily live blogs, available on our apps and www.skysports.com