“My breakaway are Marche, the paradise of biking”

The Shark of the Strait is the testimonial of Region Marche for cluster bike and outdoor tourism.

After winning twice the “Giro d’Italia”, the Italian championship and the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic race and once the Tour de France, Vuelta, and Milano-Sanremo races, Vincenzo Nibali, born in Messina in 1984, already collected the goals most longed by any professional biker. Now, busy training for the next “Giro”, the Tokyo Olympic games and the World championship in Switzerland, he associated with our Region and became its testimonial for cluster bike and outdoor tourism. Nibali will in fact promote this kind of tourism, on which Marche are investing both in Italy and abroad. The region is creating new and large biking paths, meant for tourists of all nationalities. “I had only seen Marche while riding, before, and during these days I could appreciate their charms, both in the hinterland and along the seacoast. I think I’ll come back for a holiday” the athlete said last September, during the press conference for the presentation of the campaign, which consists of exciting spots lasting 15, 30, 60, 120 or 300 seconds. They will be broadcast on TV and radio and also diffused through social networks and the Internet. Numana, Loreto, Recanati, Sirolo, Portonovo, the Conero Park, San Benedetto del Tronto, Ascoli Piceno, Offida and Fiastra are some of the suggestive localities Nibali rode in during tours he made expressly to produce films and photographs meant to promote this experiential kind of tourism. Spots show the wonderful localities of Marche as Nibali rides along paths connecting them to each other, from the coast to the hills and up to the areas hit by the 2016 earthquake. “My name is often connected to Marche, also because of races I rode in my youth, in the juniors and amateurs categories, not to mention two “Tirreno-Adriatico” editions, a race which finishes precisely in Porto Sant’Elpidio” he added. We met “the Shark” during the first week of last December, while he was in Urbino to produce the spots. While there, Nibali visited the Ducal Palace, the Sanzio Theatre and the Albornoz Fortress, to admire the exhibition dedicated to Raphael. In Urbino, which in 2020 commemorates the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, will also do a stop-over the Under 23 Giro d’Italia. But let us give the floor to the athlete.

We all know Vincenzo Nibali as one of the greatest Italian bikers in the history of biking sport. How does “the Shark of the Strait” live, when he is not riding?
When I am not busy racing or training, I try and dedicate all the time I can to my family, my wife and my daughter.

How did your passion for biking start? What do you remember of your beginning? 
I inherited my biking passion from my father, an amateur biker. With him I faced my first experiences and moved my first steps in the world of bicycles. My father made me fall in love with this sport and instilled in me the passion for biking.

Did you ever think that you could not make it and plan to quit?
I never planned to quit, though I had hard times, especially in the first years as a professional, when I had to deal with very strong athletes whom till then I had only seen on TV.

You have been nicknamed “The Shark of the Strait”. Would you tell us how this nickname was born?
It is due to my Sicilian fan club, and to the fact that some time ago a shark was seen in the Strait of Messina. In addition, the way I assault the roads when I face rises and fix my mind on the goal, was compared to the aggression and the strength of a shark.

Tell us about your training days. Do you train by yourself or together with your team? Are you assisted by a trainer?
Every day I live is unique; all depends from the season and the goals I pursue. I do have a trainer, Mr. Paolo Slongo, who looks after me since a long time. I always stand by his suggestions.

How hard and how long do you train when preparing for a race?
Also under this respect, all depends from the characteristics of the race. One may train on high ground (for such races divided into several legs as the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta) or follow training plans expressly studied for specific races.

What kind of food do you eat?
I eat good and healthy food of every kind. Unlike many other athletes, I do not follow a specific diet: it also depends from the seasons. In winter one minds more about his weight, whereas in spring and summer, in the heart of the racing time, one works harder and eats more.

You are one of the few bikers in the world who won at least one edition of the three great tours. What feelings did these victories give to you?
Reaching to such goals offers unique feelings and each victory is the fruit of a special path, with difficulties and satisfactions to get through to finally obtain success.

Which was your most engaging race, both physically and mentally?
Stage races, which are about four weeks long, are certainly the most engaging ones, both mentally and physically.

What is your relationship with Marche? Tell us about the itineraries where you filmed the spots. What in these territories struck you?
I started my relationship with Marche about six months ago and had several chances to learn about the territory while filming the spots. I discovered charming biking paths: sea, hills and mountains are very close to each other in a territory perfectly fit for walking and biking and staying in contact with an extraordinary nature. We made a lot of shooting, we saw the hills, the vineyards, the wine cellars: all carefully looked after. Not to mention the hospitality we enjoyed in all towns and villages.

Would you commemorate the champion from Marche, your former teammate Michele Scarponi?
Michele was to me more than a partner: he was my roommate, an exceptional man who kept everybody cheerful and had an extra oomph, especially in the moments of difficulty.

Are you are training for a race right now? What are your projects for the future?
The season just begun: On December 8 I started training with my team for 2020. It is a most important season: first of all for the “Giro d’Italia”; then the Tokyo Olympics, in August, and the World Championship in Switzerland. These are my main goals this year.

by I. Cofanelli