VeloNews Awards 2018: Vincenzo Nibali, attack of the year

With a bold attack on the route's final climb of the Poggio, Nibali built on his reputation as a fearless attacker with tactical nous.

Photo: Getty Images

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Sharks have the reputation for being aggressive — always on the prowl, moments away from an attack. Yup, that’s Vincenzo Nibali. The “Shark of Messina” has made some of the most convincing and cunning attacks in recent cycling history. In 2018, none was more impressive than the move he made at Milano-Sanremo, our Attack of the Year.

The four-time grand tour winner won the 109th edition of the monument after a blistering attack on the Poggio just 5.4 kilometers from the line, and then made a daredevil descent into Sanremo to hold off the chasing peloton. He became the first Italian to win the race in 12 years; he did it with his familiar flair for the dramatic.

Did the peloton make a mistake by letting the savvy Nibali ride up the road so late in the race? There seemed to be a lull in the action as the group sped along the coast toward the resort town. It appeared the race was headed toward another sprint finish, just as it had so many times before.

Then … bang! Nibali followed a move by Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) on the Poggio. Neilands asked him to help pull, but Nibali hesitated. When the Italian saw the gap that they had, he took his turn and attacked even harder. Then it was just a matter of storming to the finish, head down, suffering like only a shark can.

After the race, Peter Sagan could only applaud Nibali’s bold move, saying, “He’s got balls.”

Praise for the victory came from all corners, none more potent than from the king himself, Eddy Merckx: “I like him because he interprets cycling as we used to interpret it in my time,” the cycling great told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He always starts [with the intention of] doing well and does not hold back. The fact that Milano-Sanremo was conquered by a rider who has already won races like the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France is great news for all cycling. That’s why everyone applauds a victory like this.”

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