Start All Over Again

7 October 2015

A sunday in May, 2013. A beautiful day. There you were, standing on a podium. An emotional man from Sicily. You had just won your very first Giro d’Italia. All your Italian fans were there, shouting your name. “Nibali, Nibali!” You stated in an interview that day that “this victory crowns a life’s dream”.  You gave up your life in the south of Italy for that dream. At the age of fifteen, you moved to the north of the country to ride for a team there. There was no other option. In the south of Italy there were no big races, not much knowledge and hardly any money. And there were no mountains there to climb. Or to descent. The hard work you’ve put in from then until 2013, finally paid off. I also remember another Sunday. A Sunday in July, 2014. Marcel Kittel was the fastest in the sprint. And somewhere in the peloton you were raising your arms to the sky. You made Italy proud again after sixteen years without a win in the Tour de France. A clean win. Italy waited for this so long and finally, you made that dream come true. The shy and quiet guy from Sicily. Expectations were high for 2015. You announced that you would skip the Giro, to focus on the Tour de France. Italian fans were disappointed in you, because for the second time in a row you would not start in the Giro. The Tour de France turned out to be a deception,  although you did won a stage. And I will not bring up the Vuelta a España. You answered all the critics in one of the last ‘monuments’ of the season. With an attack in the descent of the Civiglio. Never to be seen again by the other riders. Solo over the finish line. Winning the Giro di Lombardia. So can we still call it a lost year? Maybe we should forget about some days. And look back at the good days. Like you said yourself this Monday at the presentation of the route of the Giro d’Italia, 2016: “After every year you start all over again, no matter what you achieved.” It is the truth. Every rider starts with a clean sheet next year. You also said that you are thinking about riding the Giro and skipping the Tour de France. Or ride it in support of Fabio Aru. Just do it. Make the Italian fans proud again. The Giro has a special place in your heart, so just go for it. Follow your heart and make that dream come true. Again. I can already hear the fans cheer for you along the Italian roads. “Nibali, Nibali!”

© Tim de Waele


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