(Reuters) – Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali has been advised to keep his weight down so he can ride full steam ahead when racing resumes, but the former Tour de France champion knows it will be hard to follow his coach’s recommendations amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“Right now all Italian families are in the kitchen, cooking,” the 35-year-old, one of seven riders to win all three grands tours, said on Friday from his home in Switzerland.
Nibali’s coach Paolo Slongo told Reuters: “Vincenzo has been taking it easy after Paris-Nice (which ended last Saturday), two hours a day (of training) without stress.”
Racing has been suspended until the end of April and the Giro d’Italia has been postponed, leaving professional riders with at least a six-week gap to fill.
“We can’t really program anything because we have no idea what the calendar will look like when competitions resume,” added Slongo.
Nibali, who has also won the Milan-Sanremo and Tour of Lombardy one-day ‘Monuments’, is based in Lugano, where he lives with his wife Rachele and six-year-old daughter Emma.
Switzerland does not yet have a complete lockdown and, contrary to his fellow riders in France and Italy, the Sicilian has been allowed to ride his bike outside although Nibali said he had kept his outings to a minimum.
“The goal for him is to maintain his weight and stay in shape, because we don’t know when it (racing) will start again, and most importantly, with which race,” said Slongo.
“It could be the Giro or the Tour de France.”
The Tour de France is scheduled for June 27-July 19.
Should the lockdown periods in Europe be extended in some countries but not others, leaving some riders able to train outside while others cannot, professionals might resume racing with huge differences in fitness levels.
“If the quarantine period lasts, there will be differences of form even if it’s too soon to tell,” Italian rider Jacopo Guarnieri told Reuters. “The only thing we can do is to be responsible and stay at home as much as possible.”
The coronavirus has infected over 250,000 people and killed more than 10,000 worldwide, with Italy the hardest-hit country.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)