Italian cycling champ comes clean over hitching a lift in Tour of Spain

Italian cycling star Vincenzo Nibali admitted his guilt on Sunday nearly six weeks after being thrown off Spain's Vuelta for cheating by holding on to his Astana team's car.

Italian cycling champ comes clean over hitching a lift in Tour of Spain
Cyclist Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the Tour of Spain after cheating. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Speaking after his maiden victory in the Tour of Lombardy, the final classic 'monument' of the season, the Astana team leader and 2014 Tour de France winner admitted: “It was a serious mistake.”

Professional cyclists regularly bend the rules of the sport and race officials often turn a blind eye when they momentarily hold on to a team car, or cycle ferociously in the slipstream of a car in a bid to rejoin the peloton.

But Nibali's gesture in one of the sport's three major Tours was far too blatant to ignore.

Judges reviewed the evidence and decided to throw him off the race on August 23rd, causing the Italian champion to sit at home and contemplate a mistake that blackened an otherwise respectable career.

“For every cyclist there are happy times and there are other moments that are not so happy,” he added.

“The whole episode got me really angry. I wanted to get back on my bike to show what I was really made of. It gave me a whole new motivation.”

Nibali, known as 'Il Squalo (The Shark)' for his incisive attacks, knuckled down and the results started pouring in.

He finished second in the Coppa Agostoni, won the Coppa Bernocchi and Trois Vallees Varesiennes, and finished third in the Pantani Memorial as he ramped up his preparations for another, and finally successful, tilt at victory on the Tour of Lombardy.

Surprisingly, Nibali's victory on Sunday was the first by an Italian in a major classic since 2008, when Damiano Cunego won this same race.

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VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021

Demand for bicycles has soared in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, but conversely the global supply is at record low levels, with consumers having to wait months or over a year for their bike of choice.

VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021
Photo: Stocksnap/Pixabay

Bikes are projected to outsell cars in Europe by two to one by 2030.   

But 2021 will not be an easy year to buy a bike in many European countries, especially if you have a particular model in mind. 

Firstly, there's been a huge surge in demand for bikes during the pandemic, as Europeans looked for ways to stay fit and move around more freely without having to worry about being exposed to Covid-19 on public transport.

On the flip side, bike production in China, which supplies almost the entire global market, has practically ground to a halt.

The same can be said for bicycle accessories and components, which are either not being produced in Chinese factories currently or held up for months in ports in Asia due to the reduction of capacity in shipping.


In this short report, video producer Alex Dunham explores the issue of Europe's bike shortage in 2021.