Vincenzo Nibali’s lawyer says he is hopeful that French police will identify the spectator whose camera strap got caught up in the Bahrain-Merida rider’s handlebars on Alpe d’Huez during this year’s Tour de France will be identified and brought to justice.
The incident on Stage 12 led to the Italian, winner of the yellow jersey in 2014, abandoning the race before the following stage after it was discovered that he had fractured a vertebra as a result of the crash.
L’Equipe reports that Nibali, accompanied by his lawyer Fausto Malucchi, has now met with Gendarmes investigating the incident. The meeting, said to have lasted three hours, took place in Modane, just across the border from Italy in France’s Savoie department.
The meeting came about after Nibali filed a formal complaint with the French authorities against “unknown persons” following the incident, the aftermath of which also meant that he was not at peak fitness for the UCI Road World Championships, one of his big goals for the 2018 season.
Afterwards, Malucchi said that he had been “impressed by the way the investigation is being conducted, right down to the most minute detail.”
He believes that the offending spectator can be quickly identified, and the case resolved, and also highlighted the difference between the management of crowds the Tour de France with that of the Giro d’Italia, where he pointed out that on the Zoncolan, for example, organisers use a chain of volunteers to hold back the fans in the closing kilometres of the climb.
Away from racing, in recent days Nibali, nicknamed the Shark of the Straits (of Messina, his home city) has also been channelling his inner swordfish, undertaking a spot of fencing.
His tutor? Valentina Vezzali. The name may mean nothing to British ears outside fencing circles, but she has something in common with track cycling greats Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny – six Olympic gold medals.
See how he got on in this video from La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Last week, Nibali was in the UK, attending the travel trade show WTM London at ExCeL – and having won two Monuments in the shape of Milan-San Remo and il Lombardia, is this a hint at a future tilt at a third?
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.