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HORSENS, Denmark (VN) — Italy’s most promising grand tour rider, Vincenzo Nibali may leave Liquigas-Cannondale at the end of this season after failing to sign a contract extension this week. Nibali’s contract expires in December and other teams, reportedly BMC Racing ad Astana, are knocking on his door.
“It’s only right that there’s this market. I don’t see a problem that teams want to sign him. In August, we will know for sure,” Liquigas team manager Roberto Amadio told VeloNews. “It doesn’t depend on me though, it depends on him, his agent and the offers.”
The 27-year-old Sicilian grew up in the Italian team after spending his freshman year in 2005 with Fassa Bortolo. He won the GP Plouay in 2008 and lit up the Liège-Bastogne-Liège last month with a brave solo attack, but he’s grown into grand tour contender.
In 2010, he held off Ezequiel Mosquera to win the Vuelta a España. Earlier that year, he placed third and won a stage in the Giro d’Italia while helping Ivan Basso win the overall title. In 2009, the last time he raced the Tour de France, he placed seventh behind Alberto Contador.
Nibali is skipping the Giro this year to focus on a run at the overall at the Tour. He told VeloNews, “It’s hard to win, but it’s the number one goal in my books.”
This year, Nibali won the mountain stage at the Tour of Oman and the Tirreno-Adriatico overall classification. Away from the races, though, he’s making waves.
He was due to sign after meeting with Amadio on April 23. When Nibali boarded the flight for the Amgen Tour of California on Saturday, he still hadn’t signed.
Amadio reportedly offered a deal for two years at €1.8m ($2.36m) annually. BMC Racing and Astana are each reportedly offering €500,000 ($654,000) in additional compensation.
“He’s a big rider, someone who’d’ be interesting,” BMC’s team manager, Jim Ochowicz told VeloNews.
“Whether we’re talking to him or not… At the moment, we’re not, but the rumor says we are. Probably because every rumor about every rider says that we’re involved!”
BMC Racing has Cadel Evans for the Tour, Philippe Gilbert for the Classics and Taylor Phinney, who’s currently leading the Giro.
“Would he fit in? I haven’t even thought about it, it’s not something we’ve considered.”
“For me, he’s going to stay in Liquigas,” Astana general manager Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews.
“We are interested, but so are BMC, RadioShack and many other teams. For now, he’s not made contact with us.”
Amadio’s situation may be complicated due to sponsor Liquigas. Its sponsorship contract ends this season and after the Giro, president, Paolo Del Lago will meet to talk with Amadio about money.
“We already have contracts with Elia Viviani, Peter Sagan, Ivan Basso,” Amadio added. “The team’s going on, it remains to be seen if Liquigas will be the sponsor or if there will be another sponsor.”
Amadio told Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that Nibali is going to “go his own way,” but the Sicilian said that he’s going to wait until after the Tour de France to sign with his future team.
Whether that timeframe excludes him from Amadio’s roster going forward is yet to be seen.