Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) will return to the Critérium du Dauphiné after a two-year absence ready to put the final touches to his form ahead of his bid to win the 2018 Tour de France in July.

The 2014 Tour champion skipped the Giro d’Italia this year, a race he won in 2016 and finished third last year, to focus on adding another Tour title to his palmares. A win at Milan-San Remo was obviously good for morale, and since competing last at Liége-Bastogne-Liége in April, the 33-year-old Italian has been building toward the Tour, most recently with an altitude training camp on Mount Teide.

“I have spent the last two weeks at the Teide volcano to lay the groundwork of my mountain training for the Tour de France,” Nibali told Dauphiné organisers last week.


“I am heading to Italy before returning, with pleasure, to the Dauphiné,” he said. “I am convinced that the Dauphiné is the race best suited to gradually get ready for the Tour de France, which I have made my main objective this year. I especially remember that it is always a difficult race with a lot of mountains and very good riders.”

Nibali’s main competition in the mountains will be Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Irishman Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), as many Tour contenders have opted for the Tour de Suisse, which starts June 9 and finishes closer to the Tour de France start on July 7.

Nibali’s best result in Dauphiné was seventh in 2014, the year he won the Tour, and he’s hoping to replicate that July form again this year. He’s never won a stage in his five appearances at Dauphiné, but he briefly led the race in 2015 before Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) took the jersey.

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